The Annunciation 2012

“As the ancient propecies foretold, it is a virgin who is to bear the holy child… Paul, Mark, Matthew– the earliest writers about Jesus– say nothing of a virgin birth, but by the time Luke wrote his gospel, it had come to seem that nothing less wonderful could account for the wonders he was gospelling.
This extraordinary life could have had a beginning no less extraordinary. History creates heroes. Heredity is responsible for human greatness. Evil also evolves. Only holiness happens.”  Buechner.
There must be thousands of images of this scene.
Here are just a few.

 Fra Angelico Source

Image source
The Annunciation, 1430-1432, by Fra Angelico.
The Annunciation, 1430-1432, by Fra Angelico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 by Simone Martini(c. 1284–1344) a medieval Sienese artist.
Image source 

 James Tissot Source

 Henry Ossawa Tanner Source

 John William Waterhouse 1914 Image source

 Image source

 Annunciation from Russia 2006 Source

He Qi Annunciation Source

Annunciation by John Collier


Denise Levertov

‘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 courage.

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. 

This was the minute no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,

She did not cry, "I cannot, I am not worthy,"
nor "I have not the strength."
She did not submit with gritted teeth,

raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,

consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,

and the iridescent wings.

courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.

The mother of Jesus was extraordinary. It might seem odd that Mary was not able to merit the same level of miracle that Elijah, Moses, and thousands of others had.

Advent brings hope of new beginnings and a new sense of humility,  a new sense of dependency on God, and a re-newed sense of the comfort and strength of God’s presence. 

" We are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hands.”

The Advent season looks to new life.  It calls us to bring new life to birth – in ourselves and to the world around us.  The Advent watch continues expectantly, longingly for the light of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God-with-us. 

Of all powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart. 

It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent.”
Frederick Buechner

“If you think you are seeing the same show all over again seven times a week, you’re crazy.  
Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before
and never will be again. 

And the you that wakes up was never the same before and will never be the same again.”

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Hail Mary in Aramaic, Shlomlech Maryam

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