A circle of friends on pilgrimage for the love of God

Annunciation

The Annunciation by Henry Ossowa Tanner (1898)

Annunciation
Rev. Doug Floyd
Isaiah 7:10-14, Luke 1:46-55, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:26-38

Gabriel suddenly appears to Mary with the word, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” [1] This moment is charged with glory and holy terror, and the angel immediately calms Mary with the words, “Do not fear for you have found favor with God.” Before Mary can say a word, he continues with the unthinkable. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name 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 father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[2]

In a moment, a blink of an eye, Mary’s world is forever changed. Our world is forever changed. God has come to dwell with man. Mary, the young virgin, will bear in her womb the Creator of the Universe. Theotokos: the woman who will bear God or the Mother of God.

How can this be? Our question and Mary’s question.

And the angel answered 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 called holy—the Son of God.[3] Here we have the beginning of our faith confession: in her virgin womb grows a baby that we will come to confess as fully God and fully man. He doesn’t become God at some point. From the moment of conception, he is both man and God. This is a mystery to be worshipped.

Mary responds to this word of God, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”[4]

We pause over this mystery today. We draw near with hushed awe. For the glory of God is revealed in our midst. In this singular event, time and space are changed. The promise of God is revealed. The hope of all humanity made known. This is Gospel. This is Good News. This is the grace of God.

The angel Gabriel speaks the word of grace to Mary. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” The word Greetings literally means rejoice! For the good news of Jesus Christ is good news of great joy. This word “rejoice” is a variation of the word “charis,” which means grace and gift and even love. The angel speaks another variation of “charis” in the very next word, “favored one.” The angel comes with the word of love from the Father in heaven. This word of love is a gift that will turn the hearts of humanity to the Father.

The word of love, the gift of God, the grace of God echoes in the promise to Mary, “The Lord is with you.” In this one glory-filled greeting, we hear the Gospel; we hear the unshakeable blessing of God. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”[5] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”[6]

This Gospel, this Good News is not a message of fear. It is a message of great joy for Mary and for all humanity. God has come as the last king of Israel. “And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[7]

The coming of King Jesus is good news of great joy.

Mary responds to the word of God, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”[8] And the church is born. Her word is the word of the saints across the ages. It is the word of the disciples. John Paul II used this phrase to describe Mary, “Totus Tuus” that is “Totally Yours.” In her absolute submission to God’s Word, Mary becomes the model for all future disciples of the Lord.

This word of absolute submission can only be said in and through the grace of God. Gabriel has come to Mary and to all humanity in a sense bearing the word of grace. In this gift of God’s love, Mary is strengthened to speak the word of faith, the word of submission, the word of doxology, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

We rehearse this glorious story seven days before we will rehearse the cross of Christ. As King and Redeemer, Jesus will bear the sin and death of humanity in the cross, in His suffering, in His death. Mary will follow Jesus to the cross, and a sword will pierce her heart. She will suffer as her Son hangs upon the cross. In His death and resurrection, Jesus will redeem her.

Mary, the young virgin, who heard the word of grace from Gabriel, the Theotokos, will become in some sense the mother of the church. We follow in her footsteps, opening our hearts and lives to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Even as we hear the good news today, let us keep this confession on our lips and in our hearts, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 1:28.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 1:31–33.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 1:35.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 1:38.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 1:14.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 3:16.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 1:32–33.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 1:38.

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