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Mary

March 25, 2021

And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:28-29

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation. Here, in the final stretch of Lent when we prepare to hear again of the death of Jesus, is the surprising announcement that Christmas is only nine months away. If it comes as a surprise to us, however, imagine how Mary must have felt!

I cannot really begin to guess how Mary felt at this sudden angelic appearance. Gabriel’s opening words did not seem to do much to comfort her, at least not right away. She is left perplexed and pondering. I imagine shock and terror might have been part of her reality, too. Of course, the angel’s message gets stranger: She will conceive and bear a child that is of the Holy Spirit, though she is a virgin. He will be the Son of the Most High, seated on the throne of David to rule over the house of Jacob.

What?

But Mary says yes. Here I am. Let it be with me according to your word. And she would stay be her son’s side all the way to his death, heartbroken but never looking away. And then, three days later…

You and I will never be asked to bear the Savior into this world. Mary’s calling to be the mother of God is unique. But her Son who was killed has been raised from the dead. The child cradled by Mary reigns throughout creation. In his death and resurrection, we are reborn. We bear upon our brows the seal of him who died. We bear Christ ever anew into this world.

Our world is perplexing, to say the least. There is much to ponder. But because of Mary’s Son, we are now favored ones for whom the Lord is forever present.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of grace, thank you for faithful Mary, through whom redemption was born into this world. Help us to say yes to your calling to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898 (public domain). Tanner was the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim. Of course, that doesn’t mean he was the first African-American painter worthy of international acclaim any more than Jackie Robinson was the first African-American worthy of a spot on a Major League roster. We can only wonder at the art that was ignored or never made due to the pervasive racism throughout our nation’s history. Anyway, I love this painting. It’s part of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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