Luke 1:26-38 The Feast of the Annunciation
How many girls do you know who have been painted and sculpted by DaVinci and Michelangelo…who’ve been serenaded by Bach and Schubert, Verdi and Puccini…who’ve been praised by Aquinas and Augustine and venerated in a constant stream of devotions? Or more to the point, can we ever hope to know anyone after they have been so endlessly exalted? This Sunday let’s try. And let’s see what we can learn from Christ’s earliest and closest companion.
In the first chapter of Luke, we meet Mary before all that, long before she becomes swathed in centuries of sentimentality. We meet her as a kid…a very, very good kid … but only a kid. She’s scared. She’s stunned. But she is not overwhelmed. This is her first encounter with an angel. But it is obviously not her first encounter with God. He is not an abstraction to her. He is a constant presence in her life. Even as a teen, she defines herself as God’s servant. Rick Warren would say: She has a purpose driven life. She is here to serve God. She embraces it. Even if that means being the mother of the Messiah, let it be with me according to your word.
Scripture gives us this beautiful portrait of a Mary in the moment, not of the myth. In the most mind-boggling circumstances, she stands her ground, momentarily confused by the message and the messenger, but confident in the goodness of God, giving herself reflexively to his service. For all our maturity, how many of us have such a clear grasp of life’s ultimate reality? We are here to serve God. That is our own personal call to greatness. Not from angels, but constantly from God’s grace.
We get to answer that call everyday in countless ways — in our respect for others, in our kindness, in our generosity, in our forgiveness, in our family responsibilities, in our professional ethics, in our fearless, unrelenting witness to Christ’s love. Doubtless, none of us will be sculpted or painted by masters. Choirs will not sing our praises. But God will. He rejoices in the goodness we give back to him. He knows the obstacles we must overcome. He knows the sea of secular cynicism that surrounds us. He knows we can be confused and distracted. That is why scripture gives us the wisdom of Mary, the kid who was surprised but then quickly focused, the kid who knew she was God’s servant and knew that God would see her through. I pray that we may share that same serenity and join Mary in her joyous song: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
The Reverend David Sellery, Author, Resource Creator and Retreat Leader. Committed to a vocation that focuses on encountering God in the midst of everyday life, I serve as an Episcopal priest who seeks to proclaim the good news of God in Christ in worship, pastoral care, education, stewardship, congregational development and community outreach, while continually engaging our wider culture with dynamism and hope.
Icon by Laurie Gudim at Everyday Mysteries