Monday, December 24, 2018

Advent Angels 24

This is perhaps the most famous angelic appearance in the Bible, celebrated often in music and in art, where it has a whole genre of pictures – annunciations – named after it.

The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will have a child who will be the Messiah.

Although we might think there is a limited number of ways in which one could paint this scene, every artist does so differently. In some, the angel is about to make his announcement, in others he has already done so, and Mary is shown reacting to it. In some there is joy, in others fear, and in others calm acceptance.

We are so used to this story that it often loses some of its impact on us. In reality it is a moment when a (probably) very young woman hears news that will change her life, and which will expose her to the possibility of total ruin and danger. The son she will bear will not look after her in her old age, either. The ministry which is hinted at in the angel’s announcement will set him on a collision course with the powers of his time, and she will one day have to watch him die.

All this makes her calm “let it be with me according to your word” all the more astonishing.

·         Find some pictures of this scene – you almost certainly will have received one on a Christmas card! – and think about what the artist who drew it wanted to say about this moment.

·         Pray for women today for whom pregnancy may bring sorrow and challenge as well as joy.

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