Newry Parish Bulletin 20th December
The Annunciation story is so familiar that it can roll over our heads this weekend. What is needed from us is a deep listening, the listening that Mary herself is portrayed as being engaged in, ‘ In the beginning was the Word. In the beginning was the hearing’. The essential point of the Annunciation story in Luke is that of a new creation. This is a good theme for the last Sunday before Christmas: the newness of it all, the wonder of each new birth and especially of this one. This leads to the need for a consideration of the preservation of creation and a need for an opening out to the creativity to which God and the earth itself call us to currently.
The inward attentive attitude, coupled with an openness outward, is precisely the attitude of Mary portrayed by Luke, and could be used this Christmas by us as a call to the kind of newness and creativity in relation to creation that this time in our history demands.
The wonder of the unexpected new creation which happened through Mary for us all could be developed further by speaking of the joy of unexpected, good news: the confirmation of a pregnancy; success in an interview, a telephone call to say a son or daughter is unexpectedly coming home for Christmas. There is joy in such unexpected events and there is also responsibility, the demands made on us by the invasion of our lives by this new ‘other’. Mary’s willingness to accept the demands of the new on her is what the words, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’ mean. They are not the meek acceptance of the inevitability of an implacable ‘will of God’, as they have been too often construed to mean, but a joyful desire on her part to be in on the new creation which God was bringing about in the world.
No relationship is ever static; there is always the possibility of growth and life. We could ask ourselves this Christmas; What is the new relationship with God and with those around me demanded of me this Christmas? Into what area of my life can I let this newness enter? Have I the courage to be open to the possibilities of growth and of life to which it calls me?
Upon our answers to questions like these depends the fruitfulness or otherwise with the new creative activity of God present in the child at Bethlehem.
Canon Francis Brown