The Angel Went Down To Galilee
The angel went down to Galilee,
He was looking for a girl to tell
He was in a bind, ’cause it was time,
He was hoping to make the sell
When he came across this young girl
Who was devout and pure of heart
And the angel jumped up on an olive stump and said,
“Girl let me tell you what:
I guess you didn´t know it, but the Spirit’s coming over you,
And if you’d care to do your share,
I’ll share some news with you
Now you pray a pretty good prayer,
Girl, but give ol’ Gabe his due
I bring a word from God to fill your bod.
‘Cause there’s noone better than you”
The girl said, “My name’s Mary and I know just where I’ve been,
So I’ll take your word, it’s gonna be heard,
‘Cause I’m the best there’s ever been”
The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary
Yesterday was March 25th… exactly 9 months until Christmas Day.
Celebration of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son as Jesus of Nazareth.
So, we have this event and we might be tempted to treat it as something we just check it off our annual list of Bible stories. But there’s more to it!
- There are feminist theologians who struggle with the Annunciation as an artifact of the patriarchy because Mary is portrayed as submissive and who’s value is reduced to simply to her ability to have babies. Simone de Beauvoir wrote: “the mother kneels before her son: she freely accepts her inferiority. This is the supreme masculine victory, consummated in the cult of the Virgin.” (The Second Sex, 1952)
- Other theologians see Mary as exercising her free choice to accept God’s request – a request she could have refused. But Mary accepts the request and takes on the role of servant, much in the same way that Jesus also accepted the mantle of servant. Mary’s act of faith here, exercising her free will to cooperate with God in his plan of salvation – a plan carried out through her willing faithfulness.
- And there are theologians who go further with the Annunciation; emphasizing a high status for women; enlisted by God in the ongoing work of creation; in this case creation through a divinely profound childbirth (not even involving men in this work of salvation).
Here Mary becomes the “herald of Salvation”; guiding Christianity into the spheres of politics & justice for the very marginalized people that her son, Jesus, would focus his earthly & divine ministries upon. (BBC, The Feast of the Annunciation)
The Root of Reversal
At its very roots, the Annunciation is an opportunity for reversal on the cosmic level. Its very roots are a reversal; a reversal of the Garden narrative at our very origins; a reversal of the consent of Eve to eat; ultimately consenting to deviate from the will of God. The Father said, “Do not eat.”, but “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6)
Eve consented; and in that consent, sin was conceived.
Genesis 3 narrative
Temptation Attraction of the fruit
The Fruit was “pleasing to the eye”
And “You will be Like God …”
The idea to eat the fruit enters the mind
Sin Conceived Consideration of eating the fruit
(their will departs from God’s will) “Hath God said …”
(this is where the fall took place) Disobedience is contemplated
The decision to eat the fruit
The decision of the will to disobey
Sin Born Eating the fruit
The act of disobedience
And lest we think to give ourselves a pass in this giving consent:
the same pattern: Temptation à Sin Conceived à Sin Born : James 1:14-15 (NKJV)
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown,
brings forth death.
However, the narrative of God & humanity contains a divine reversal!
Mary consented; and in that consent, salvation was conceived.
The Consent to Creation
The nature of God is love; a state of other-centeredness so profound that it could not even be contained within the persons of the triune Godhead and therefore it spilled out through the act of creation – the very first recorded act of God. Through the annunciation, through the offer extended to one humble Hebrew girl (barely old enough for child-bearing), God humbles himself and invites humanity into the act of re-creation. Mary consents to participate in this re-creation; and by her consent to submit to divine-human narrative and plan of salvation, the process of making all things new begins. Life comes again.
The Hope of Humanity
That birth of life made possible by one Hebrew girl giving consent;
essentially saying “yes.”; to God’s plan of re-creation did not end there.
While Mary consented, and Jesus completed – once and for all time –
the salvation that is the hope of humanity for life and life eternal …
the opportunity for participation, for consenting, for saying “Yes.” continues on in each and every one of us today. When we say “Yes.”:
Yes to life & no to death/violence. Yes to selflessness & no to selfishness.
Yes to putting others needs ahead of our preferences & privileges.
Yes to listening & understanding other perspectives & practices.
Yes to letting go of our empires and submitting to the Kingdom.
Yes to the poor, the abandoned & alone, the vulnerable & the foreigner.
Let each of us consent to participate in the birth of hope & life right here!