“Greetings O highly favoured one!”
Mary was troubled by the angel’s greeting.
“I bring great news – you are to give birth to a child.”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“You are to name him Jesus, because…”
“Wait! Back up a bit.”
“You are to bear a child?”
“Yes that bit. Who do you think you are?”
“I am Gabriel.”
“Do I look like some kind of helpless woman who’s sitting around waiting for a man to come along so I can be stuck at home bringing up a baby?”
“Look. This is the first century and I don’t need some man thinking he can tell me what to do.”
“Take your propositioning elsewhere – this woman has great things ahead of her which don’t need any man to achieve.”
What we love about the story of Mary and Gabriel is that she said “yes”.
Even though it would cost her reputation, the possible loss of her betrothed, the shame her family would bear and maybe the whole town rejecting her, she still said yes.
As we have discussed elsewhere male and female together make up the full image of God. Men embody the masculine characteristics of God and women embody the feminine characteristics of God. For example, men embody His transcendance and women embody His immanence:
“the essence of masculinity is initiation and the essence of femininity is response” Elisabeth Elliot
Because of the meaning of gender this is why God is principally referred to as masculine:
“God is so masculine that we all (male and female) are feminine in relation to Him” C S Lewis
He is the one who initiates, who first loves us, who gives us good gifts and we are the ones who respond, who love because he loved us first, who receive every good and perfect gift from above. He is the Bridegroom we are the Bride.
The Protestant tradition has over time devalued Mary and what she can teach us. In this annunciation, Mary is the example of how we should respond to God: we express shock that He would choose us but we say yes to His great offer despite the great cost.
That is the essence of Christianity and is the opposite to the spirit of this age that doesn’t need others, that seeks to do it on their own, denies the image of God that we bear and instead seeks to become our own god and re-make God in our new image.
Father, help us this Christmas to humble ourselves and say “yes” to whatever You are calling us to. Help us to realise that we can’t bring change in our lives and in our world without Your intervention. Thank You that You choose us to love and to become co-workers despite our many flaws. We receive Your Spirit that forms Jesus in us. Amen.