Dear friends in Christ,
Today the church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We recall Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s acceptance, that God-among-us would be born to dwell with us. As I looked at the Gospel lesson to prepare writing this email, I had a bit of a jarring disconnect. “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth…” I’m so used to hearing those words in happy time, at Christmastide or just before.
Hearing joyous words at this moment seemed incongruous, almost inappropriate. And then I realized my foolishness. 2,000 years ago, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and she courageously accepted the news, the world was not a piece of cake. Mary’s life was about to be upended. Her travail far exceeds my feeble struggles in every way.
This is precisely the shock and the scandal of the Incarnation. Into our fallen, sometimes awful, world, God comes among us. The word incarnation means something like enfleshment. God Almighty, who created the heavens and earth and who can do all things, willingly came to live among us, accepting the limitations of our frail flesh. Our God is not remote and uncaring. Our Creator loves us so much that God is willing to live in solidarity among us.
This present time in which many of us are living in enforced separation might seem to prevent connection and intimacy. In some ways, that is true. But it is also true that we are never distant from God. And thanks to telephones, computers, and other devices, we can stay connected to other people across great distance. So we have one another, and we always have God.
Are you lonely? Reach out to another person. Cast your cares on God in prayer. Know that your pain is real, and it is shared by God. And other people will share it with you too.
Do you know someone who might be yearning for connection? Reach out to them. Send an email. Make a call. Invite them into prayer. You might like to start by praying the collect appointed for today:
Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I can’t imagine Mary woke up that morning 2,000 years ago with any inkling of what was in store for her. In an astounding act of courage, she accepted her vocation with grace and dignity.
None of us could have imagined the challenges today will bring. I hope we can allow God’s grace to pour into our hearts, and through us, into the world.
ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement has release a set of free courses, Prayer & Worship in Our Homes, which includes the following classes.
- Everyday Spiritual Practices with Keith Anderson
- How to Pray with Christopher Martin
- Praying with Saints with Scott Gunn and Tim Schenck
- How to Pray Online with Karekin Yarian
- Praying the Anglican Rosary with Suzanne Edwards-Acton
Inspirational Reading of the Week