Feast of The Annunciation 2012

The Feast of The Annunciation

‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’
From the Agathistos
Hymn, Greece

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.

Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.
But we are told of meek obedience. 
No one mentions

The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.

God waited.
She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?

Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,

More often
those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.

Ordinary lives continue.                                  

God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.
She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child – but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.

Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.
Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,

only asked
a simple, 'How can this be?'
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:
to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –

but who was God. 

Poem by Denise Lebertov
Painting Annunciation by John Collier
This Annunciation is set in suburbia, but the symbolism is quite traditional. 
Mary is reading from Isaiah about the Virgin who conceives and bears a son. 
The lily represents her purity, and she is welcoming St. Gabriel.

The Heart-in-waiting

Jesus walked through whispering wood:
'I am pale blossom, I am blood berry,
I am rough bark, I am sharp thorn.
This is the place where you will be born.'

Jesus went down to the skirl of the sea:

'I am long reach, I am fierce comber,

I am keen saltspray, I am spring tide.'
He pushed the cup of the sea aside

And heard the sky which breathed-and-blew:
'I am the firmament, I am shape-changer,

I cradle and carry and kiss and roar,
I am infinite roof and floor.'

All day he walked, he walked all night,
Then Jesus came to the heart at dawn.
'Here and now,' said the heart-in-waiting,
'This is the place where you must be born.'

By Kevin Crossley-Holland

The Church Of The Annunciation Nazareth Israel

 The Church /Basilica of the Annunciation is a church in Nazareth, in modern-day northern Israel; it was established in the place where, according to Roman Catholic tradition, the Annunciation took place. In other words, it is the location where Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a virgin, was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and told that she had been selected to be the mother of Jesus. The Greek Orthodox tradition holds that this event occurred while Mary was drawing water from the well in Nazareth, and erected St. Gabriel's Church at that alternate site.

The current church is a two-story building, erected over the site of an earlier Byzantine and Crusader church. Inside, the lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the actual remains of the original childhood home of Mary.

Under Roman Catholic canon law, it enjoys the status of a minor basilica. The basilica attracts many Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Christian visitors every year.

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