Thoughts from the Pastor

The Other Annunciation

Part of the Christmas story we know so well is the angel Gabriel appearing to the young Mary to announce that she would have a son who would be the Messiah. This moment has inspired Christmas Songs, Christmas plays, our nativity scenes, and decorations. We call this moment the annunciation – quietly literally “to announce.” It is a moment of wonderous proclamation filled with mystery, joy, and divine promises being kept. The purpose of the angelic visit was not simply to give Mary a heads up, but also to reassure Mary that God would be with her in the midst of this incredible news.

          Recently my sister and fellow pastor shared a poem by writer Amy Frykholm who invites us to consider a different sort of announcement – more accurately an annunciation that has not yet come. Here is her poem: 

What if there was another girl

To Whom the angel did not come,

One who said, every day, “I am ready.”

She woke, she dressed, she went to the well to draw water. 

Still no flutter of wings

No gifts delivered in the dark.

No sudden lights. 

Just ordinary grit and labor.

She knew the stories – Samuel, Miriam.

The power of, “Here I am.”

She wiped sleep from her eyes. 

Readied the day. Waited.

           This imagined other girl is a powerful if not difficult reminder that as people of faith we must constantly hold varied emotions in tension. For many the coming of Advent and Christmas is indeed a time of joy, mystery, awe, and a powerful reminder of God’s presence. For many others, things are not so simple. People of faith can in the same moment celebrate the coming of Jesus while also feeling as if they are waiting for good news in their own lives.

          As a community of faith, we must make room for this tension. We must reassure one another that God is both present in the moments of celebration and in the moments of pain. After all, the joyous birth is only part of Jesus’ story. We know that Jesus also knows what it is to mourn, to suffer, and to even feel as if God has forsaken him. God is there in the annunciation, but God is also there in the silence. 

          For those who find great joy this season your church family rejoices with you! Know that God is there with you in your celebration as you remember the good news of Christ’s birth. For those who are struggling or are living in tension this season, your church family seeks to honor this too. Know that God is with you in moments of mourning, waiting, and hoping. May we continue to hold in tension all that people bring to the season of Christmas and indeed to faith. May we be sure that the good news of the incarnation, God with us, is not just a message for those who celebrate but for all people. Amen. 

~Pastor Nathan