Day Two: Annunciation

Francesco Albani (b. 1578, Bologna) The Annunciation - Oil on copper, 62 x 47 cm The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

God had announced his plan through the prophets of old.  Now he announces it to the young woman who would play a central role in that plan.  (Theologians speak of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary as “the annunciation” since the word “annunciation” means “announcement.”)  The future mother of Jesus may have only been thirteen or fourteen years old—that’s when girls in that culture got engaged—so imagine Mary’s surprise when the angel tells her that she is going to get pregnant with God’s child.  And without the benefits of marriage, husband, or honeymoon!  I wonder if her mind raced forward to the inevitable questions and how she might answer.  “Yes, I am pregnant.  No, I am not married, but I haven’t done anything wrong, this is God’s baby.” 


Mary might have been nervous.  She probably was scared.  But notice her response: “May it be to me as you have said.”  She responds with faith.  At this point Mary doesn’t know the full content of God’s plan, or what it will mean for her.  She only knows that she has been cast for a major role, and she is willing to accept her part.  Prudentius, a Latin poet of the fourth century, wrote:


The Virgin blest, the shining messenger
Believed, and by her faith she Christ conceived.
Christ comes to men of faith and spurns the heart
Irresolute in trust and reverence.
The Virgin’s instant faith attracted
Christ into her womb and hid him there till birth.

—from The Divinity of Christ*


Mary was invited to enter into God’s plan, and she said, “Yes,” which started a scary, exciting, joyous, painful, amazing journey.  And that’s what God does.  He invites us to join him and become a part of his plan for this world.  Often people think that becoming a Christian means following a long list of dos and don’ts.  Or they think that it has to do with intellectual assent to a list of propositions; it means believing all the right things and making sure you don’t believe the wrong ones.  But God, cuts through all of that and invites us to join the Christmas story—an amazing story that stretches from the very beginning of time through the manger and through the cross to the end of time.  In some sense he invites us to join a revolution; to live in the light instead of darkness.  He invites us to join a ragamuffin band of people who have said, “Yes,” to Him.   

Lord, I confess that that I don’t often feel like I’m part of your plan.  And sometimes, God, I think that you only use people like Mary—the perfect ones—and I’m not perfect.  But today, Lord, I want to say, “Yes.”  I am willing to play my part.  I am willing to live for you.  I am willing to start that scary, exciting, joyous, painful, amazing journey that you call me to embrace.  Amen