Submitted by Jan on Fri, 12/12/2014 – 14:16
Year B (2014-2015)
Bible Book: Luke / Lukas
Verse: 26 – 38
If a teenage girl explained her unplanned pregnancy to us today we would laugh and cry at the same time. What does the unreal excuse of a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant have to do with God’s plan to save the world? Everything!
What is the message of the Annunciation for us today?
God’s benevolence and faithfulness is ongoing and will never cease. Gabriel tells Mary that her offspring will sit on the throne of David and reign over the house of Jacob. More immediately, he informs Mary that her barren relative Elizabeth is already six months pregnant. There is a specific relevance for us. God’s intention for our individual lives falls in a larger story, something for which God has been planning and arranging for some time. Thus the Annunciation is an invitation to join what God is already doing.
God’s invitation may be disturbing and disruptive. The Greek word Luke uses to describe Mary’s response is unique in the New Testament. It is closely related to the word used to describe Herod’s response to learning of the birth of Jesus, which was to be “troubled” so much he tried to kill Jesus. It’s also used to describe the response of the disciples to seeing Jesus walk on the water, which was to be “terrified.” Luke uses the word to describe Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah’s response to the angelic message that he would be a father, and the disciples’ response when the resurrected Jesus appears to them. The Annunciation of God’s work in our lives may cause us fear, but it is also an invitation to believe.
What God invites us to join and to believe may appear impossible. This is the intended point conveyed by Mary’s “virginity.” Here as throughout the Bible God demonstrates He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). Elizabeth can become pregnant, and so can Mary, though it seems impossible. What is humanly impossible, is in fact possible with divine collaboration. And so the Annunciation is an invitation to submit to God and to be open for what He can achieve through us.
What is made possible through the Annunciation? Three things, as demonstrated by Mary. First, faith is made possible. God announces his intention with our lives, and we can either choose to believe it or not. Mary’s response was faith. Second is faithfulness. Faith without faithfulness isn’t true faith. Mary endured the social scorn and disgrace of her pregnancy faithfully. She didn’t say yes to God immediately but later waver. She stayed with God’s promise. Third, Mary’s faith and faithfulness bore fruit.
This is still possible today when God makes his announcement in our lives. The message of the Annunciation for us today is an invitation to respond as Mary did—with faith, faithfulness, and fruitfulness—as Christ is born anew in our lives. So let us follow Mary’s example, as one who is highly favored, for the Lord is with us, as one bearing Christ, for the Holy Spirit is within us. Let us listen for and respond to God’s Annunciation in our lives, for God is still announcing good news today.
To think about: Many factors surrounding HIV and AIDS can be disturbing or even seemingly impossible to handle. Where are you on the continuum of response to God’s announcement of good news – from faith to faithfulness to fruitfulness?
Written By: Rev. Hennie van Rooyen (Chairperson HIV and AIDS Commission Highveld Synod Dutch Reformed Church) and trained ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator.
Author: van Rooyen H (Rev)