Today as the snow falls in central Indiana, when the would be lamb seems more like a lion, it is a few days past the time when Catholic sisters and brothers across the globe celebrate the feast of Annunciation. The feast is celebrated on March 25, the time to gather to light candles, breathe prayers and acknowledge the power of a moment, when she said, “Yes!” one of my favorite days in the liturgical calendar-- but this year-- I missed it.
Somewhere between the World Vision madness and my own broken heart shattered and beleaguered as believers tear at each other again while children go hungry and folks who pursue Jesus are cast aside by the church once more, I read my twitter log and blog roll, and consumed with grief, I missed the quiet, life changing announcement of hope in the darkness.
The Annunciation, after all, is the celebration of an adolescent girl who was confronted with the power and presence of God. In the Annunciation, a young woman who finds herself in the glowing fire of Gabriel’s wings surrenders to the impossible call of God which invades her life and changes the trajectory of her future and all of human history.
Protestants too, do well to mark this high and holy day for many good reasons. We should pause to remember the Annunciation because it reminds us of the narratives of Scripture when God comes to the world and moves in and through the feminine. These are stories of our foremothers and they ought not be taken from us, rather celebrated so that we might reclaim what has been lost, a sense of God’s call to and for women even in the delicate work of birthing forth God’s Word. We should wrap our hearts and minds and arms around this opportunity built right into the church calendar to inspire young women and to remind people everywhere to do as she did, to allow the call of God to invade our lives and to take us where it will.
The miracle of the Annunciation is hard for us in the twenty first century, we are unable to lay down our plans, our smart phones and our long term goals, our mission statements and our vision boards to be slow and still enough to notice angels in our midst, to heed the call of God wooing us into some unheard of, unbelievable, unfathomable future but that is exactly what the Annunciation calls out of us. In the observance of this day, we are invited to believe as Mary did, “nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1.37).
We don’t need to restate the obvious, that she was young, unmarried, and would be scandalized for her response, perhaps we do need to say that it is likely she had plans of her own, desires and dreams, hopes and an entire scenario according to which she believed her life would unfold. Whatever her plans might have been, in a moment, she gave them over; she surrendered and she said yes instead to the unfathomable plan of God come to her on the lips of the angel.
Instead, unlike Mary, in the midst of our own fear we spew hate and we dig into our camps and we forget the miracle of God with skin on, of a king born to a poor unwed teen in a backwater town in a horse stall, we forget that God works in ways not our own. We forget that what makes the most sense is often a device of human invention and not the work of the divine who shatters cultural norms and breaks open wide the realm of logic and reason and invites us into what is miraculous, wild and free.
In the Annunciation, we reaffirm our belief in this God who works not according to creaturely conventions, but who is above it and who will be made known through whom God will be made known. We remember that nothing is impossible so we envision a reality when people who love God, follow the example of Christ empowered by Spirit are able to coexist and work together towards the common good of feeding hungry children no matter our interpretation of particular biblical passages regarding marriage, we pray for a moment when we look beyond our hermeneutical/interpretive differences to hold hands across the world to make the Kingdom known.
We whisper “yes” in the face of the impossible because we believe in the redemption of all things, our hearts pound as we step forward into an uncertain future and a territory not crossed before, we know we may be scandalized, we know we may be read wrongly if our hearts and the mysterious of work of God is not made known, but we decide our differences are not all we are but it is our deep love for this One that unites us, it is our allegiance to Jesus that will see us through. And we say with Mary, "I am the hand maiden of the Lord, let it be done, according to your word."