Today is the celebration for the Annunciation of the Lord. Today is nine months before Christmas, so we remember when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary, then a young virgin probably no older than fifteen, and told her that she would give birth to the Christ-child. How frightened must she have been? But, out of her faith, she replied, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Such great faith for one so young, so vulnerable.
I spent a long time searching for the right picture of the Annunciation to post. It’s not easy to find one that is scripturally or culturally accurate. Mary is often much older than a teenager. She seems to always don Medieval European clothing and be pictured with a bible, as if it existed in that form back then. Then I stumbled across this:
(Image courtesy of ivehadanepiphany.blogspot.com)
Here is a young Mary, caught off guard, curious, but pensive. She looks like a very plain girl, not yet the Mother of Jesus Christ the world has come to know. The Angel is undefined, a bright light, the presence of the Lord. I love the earnest look upon her face; there is innocence framed with that element of child-like faith mingled with curiosity unadulterated by cynicism like all too many adults. Scripture tells us that Mary was “perplexed” by the angel and “wondered what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29). This painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner seems to capture those words perfectly.
In nine short months, Christmas will be upon us. In nine months, we will be celebrating the day that God became flesh and dwelled among us. But today, like Mary, we can ponder the possibilities of this miracle and imagine what it might have been like on the day Jesus was born. Would we have been so willing to give ourselves over to God’s plan as Mary was? Are we willing to do that now?