Tumbling in the Sand
“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, favoured 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 favour 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 for ever, 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
I once heard said that at Christmas we preach Easter
and at Easter we preach Christmas.
I found it to be a helpful connection —
the incarnation is the heart of the crucifixion and resurrection
and the heart of the incarnation is the crucifixion and resurrection.
Life and death rest at each other’s hearts.
God’s movement of falling in love with a broken world
and intimately wrapping God’s very self
in that incarnate brokenness
leads, inevitable, to God own self being broken.
God’s becoming flesh led, by the very reality of our death-dealing world, to God’s death.
And, God’s death led to the inevitability of resurrection and life.
Because, seeds sprout.
Because new life always emerges from death.
Because the very creator of life — the ground of being — the source of life itself
could not be held by death, and instead broke it wide open.
So that death becomes birth — birth to new life.
Which is why I love that the Annunciation is today, 9 months until Christmas
but so close to Good Friday that Gabriel’s words
veritably echo in the tomb as they lay Jesus to rest …
Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favour 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 for ever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Little wonder another Mary meets Jesus at the Resurrection dawn,
as the first Mary greeted him at his birth
Or that Thomas kneels in wonder like the shepherds before the new born.
Or that we are invited into this mystery again this night
and the holy week to come.
Death is defeated.
Life emerges from the tomb.
Love is born again.
And falling int the arms of a wounded God,
letting go and trusting like Mary,
we will find life — life and wholeness we can hardly even begin to imagine.