Dear friends in Christ,
Today we observe the Feast of the Annunciation. Since we cannot be physically together in our lovely church, looking at our beautiful Annunciation stained glass window over the altar, I am providing some materials that you can use at home: the scripture, a short reflection, some questions to ponder and discuss, a recording of the Magnificat (Mary’s song of praise), and a prayer. I hope you find them helpful. As we look toward Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter, I plan to provide similar types of resources for you to use, so that although we cannot be together, we can be joining in common worship. I welcome your feedback!
Peace be with you.
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, favored 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 favor 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 forever, 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)
(A recording of the reflection is available here.)
The angel Gabriel came to Mary in her home, basically a cave in the village of Nazareth. It is now contained within the Basilica of the Annunciation, a modern church completed in 1969, containing not only the home but also the remains of other churches built there, beginning around the year 427. You can read more about the church here:
Gabriel came to Mary in her home. Not in the synagogue. And to commemorate this event, people made her home into a church. Because something holy happened there. An angel came to a young woman with an invitation from God to bear God’s own self into the world.
Gabriel came to Mary in her home. Today, I have understood this in a new way. I love standing at the altar at St. Mary’s, beneath the window depicting Gabriel and Mary and our very own Monterey Bay. But today, as I sit at home, with my own little peek of the bay, I know even more deeply that God comes to us wherever we are. God does not need us to be in a church building, a “holy” space, in order to invite us in to God’s work in the world. God brings holiness to us, wherever we are.
So as we celebrate this Feast of the Annunciation, let us be at home, and welcome the angels God is sending to us. Let us wonder how it can be, that God desires for us to bear something of God’s own into the world. And let us, like Mary, accept our invitations, trusting that God will be with us no matter what the future may hold.
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Imagine that these words are being spoken to you today. How do you feel?
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” What seems impossible right now?
“Here am I.” How are we responding to what God is doing in our lives?
(A recording of the Magnificat is available here.)
God of hope, from you come every blessing and all peace: Show us that, in the midst of our struggles, you are with us. Give us the abundance of your grace that we may do the work you give us to do and that we may be for the world a sign of your presence; through Christ, the Way and the Truth. Amen. (Daily Prayer for All Seasons, p. 71)