“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, favored 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 favor 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 forever, 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)
A little explanation of this day, the Annunciation of the Lord. In the lectionary cycle it is the day when Mary is said to have been told by the angel that she would give birth to Jesus nine months hence. Therefore it occurs on March 25, whenever that might fall. I do not know for sure, but I would suspect that it comes during the season of Lent quite often. However, when it occurs during Holy Week that feast day is moved to the first open/available time after Easter.
One way of understanding this is as a “throwback day”. It might be a term you, beloved reader, are more familiar with. When we are looking inward at our faith life and how we are living our Christian lives it is good to remember that Jesus did not come to the world as the Messiah he is now. Jesus came as a baby and went through each step of human development. Jesus knew what it meant to be human and to have human blood and emotions coursing through one’s body. It is also good, beloved reader, to remember in the weeks that come that Jesus had a human body.
“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’ (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:4-10)
This passage in Hebrews is based on Psalm 40 verses 6-8. They are a declaration by the psalmist that it is understand God does not desire offering and burnt items on an altar. God wants an open and willing heart and spirit in believers. Verses 7 and 8 say, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” We are to cultivate this attitude. Mary, the mother of God had this attitude; that might be why it is part of the lectionary readings for this day. But Jesus Christ, Mary’s son, had this attitude also. The writer of Hebrews sets it down as his experience of Jesus Christ. Psalm 40 does not convey the idea that a body or our body has been prepared, but that the psalmist will try to keep his/her heart and spirit open to God. But Jesus offers up his body for God’s purpose, and our redemption and salvation.
With these reminders set before us, let us continue to journey through Lent. Selah!