In the church’s calendar today is the Feast of the Annunciation – 9 months before Christmas Day!
Reverend Susan Blagden, from the Ministry Team reflects on this:-
The Annunciation by Fra Angelico, OP
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’
Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
Luke 1: 26- 38
Here in Bro Celynnin, where two of our churches are dedicated to the memory of Mary, I wonder what is being asked of us in these turbulent times? The world is most certainly going to look different when we emerge from the restrictions of the coronavirus.
In this Renaissance painting by the Dominican Friar, Fra Angelica, we are invited to see the very big picture of ‘The Annunciation’. Whilst the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary was undoubtedly a particular call to a particular person at a particular moment in time, it also happens within a much wider historical context. On the left hand side, Fra Angelica reminds us of the longing that humanity has had for paradise since that fateful moment when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. In-between that moment of expulsion and this moment of Annunciation, there has been exodus, a wandering in the wilderness; periods of exile, living in a foreign country; experiences of plague and famine; and upheavals in places and buildings used for worship. History has been turbulent!
Throughout it all there has been one consistent truth that is portrayed by the light streaming from the Father’s caring hand. Throughout all the turbulence of history, the light has never been extinguished. Within its bright beam we see the Holy Spirit flying towards Mary. The angel, the Holy Spirit, and the message all come unbidden into Mary’s ordinary day. God is asking Mary to be the bearer of new life, to enable Him to break into history bringing new hope.
What is God wanting to bring to birth in each of us and in all of us together, which will be a sign of hope for our community in these difficult times? Whatever it is, God needs our ‘yes’, just as he needed Mary’s ‘yes’.
‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.’ Amen.
‘Dw i eisiau gwasanaethu’r Arglwydd Dduw. Felly gad i beth rwyt wedi’i ddweud ddod yn wir.’ Amen.