The Annunciation

I was at a Christmas concert last night for my nieces and I thought that the choirs that sang did a great job. The accelerated choir group sang "Carol of the Bells" and as they did I thought of the piercing cry of a bell in relation to the piercing presence of Christ that Christmas night. I couldn't shake the thought that bells are such a perfect picture of what happened when God took on flesh and dwelt among us.

But then, probably because I grew up Catholic, I got to thinking about the Annunciation. The Annunciation is what Catholics call the salutation the Gabriel made to Mary to announce that she had been chosen to bear Christ. It is recorded in the Gospel of Luke and is tremendous in its implications and in the illustration of Mary's unbridled submission to God's will. This event in our salvation history is celebrated on March 25 each year. What made me think about the Annunciation in reference to Christmas (beyond the obvious fact that Mary had to get pregnant before she could give birth) is that this was the moment, it was this precise moment, when God himself pierced time the way a bell pierces the air. It was this moment that God's unstoppable plan to bring us back to Him was kicked into high gear. It wasn't Christmas at all...it was this moment in this young girl's life when God stooped low and condescended to be enclosed in the womb of a human being.

But there were no trumpets, no angels running about here and there pronouncing peace and proclaiming that a strange thing just happened in a small town and that makes me wonder why. It seems that this visit, this conversation of sorts between a girl and her God, and her humble faith-filled "yes" is somehow more significant than a thousand Christmas mornings. The heavens must have been shaken in complete disbelief that day when God pronounced His full plan to rescue us from our sin. I can almost imagine the scene...almost.

This doesn't make me want to go get an Annunciation tree and author any Annunciation carols, but I wonder if the traditional climax of the Christmas story is somewhat misplaced. I wonder if the climax was really the beginning and that the birth of Christ in Bethlehem was another illustration of God making sure that what He says will happen will, indeed, happen. And then I wonder if my heart will bow, in ever increasing measure to the God that not only created this universe, but also rescued it from itself.

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