Feast of the Annunciation
Isa. 7:10-14 and Luke 1:26-38
In our readings on this Feast of the Annunciation, we have the story of two visitations: one to Ahab, King of Judah, and the other to Mary, mother of our Lord.
In the first of these visitations, God promises, through the prophet Isaiah, to deliver Ahab and the people of Judah from the hands of their enemies. Furthermore, God invites Ahab to ask for a sign so that he will have no doubt or fear about placing his whole trust in God. Ahab declines the offer, saying he does not want to put the Lord to the test. But what seems at first glance to be a humble and appropriate response is revealed to be a sign of the king’s stubbornness and resistance instead. Ahab actually resents God breaking into his life; he prefers to make his own decisions and to map out his own path, and this stubbornness leads to his destruction.
Mary also receives a visitation. God promises, through the angel Gabriel, to bless her with a son, who “will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High,” and through whom God’s people will be established forever. Mary’s response is the opposite of Ahab’s. She accepts the intervention and the promise with openness and trust, and responds with those familiar words, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Two visitations. Two invitations to cooperate with God’s saving work and to reap the benefits of his promise. But two very different responses, one of resistance, the other of acceptance. One says No, while the other says Yes.
I wonder how God has broken into your life. Has God ever come to you with an invitation or challenge, accompanied by God’s sure promise to be with you? And how have you responded? Have you been a willing servant, or the proud and resistant master of your own destiny? Sometimes there are important junctures in our lives where God breaks in and we are confronted with God’s invitation or challenge, and we must determine how we will respond, whether we will cooperate or resist. These can be significant turning points for us, defining our character and setting our life course.
But we need to remember, too, that God’s invitations come to us day by day, in each moment of every day, and that we are constantly being faced with the option of cooperation or resistance. Each moment of the day gives us an opportunity to say “Yes” to what is being asked of us in that moment; the choice of aligning ourselves with God and with God’s purposes in the world, or of hardening our hearts and turning away, to protect our own interests or to set our own course. Each moment has this potential. Each moment offers this chance. And the decisions we make, moment by moment and day by day, gradually shape who we are and what we become. These decisions form our character and they either make us pliable and useful in the hands of God, or hard and unyielding, like clay that has dried and cracked and is now useless in the potter’s hand.
So what is it for you, today? What is God’s invitation? What is God’s challenge? What is God’s promise to you, this day, this week, in this season of your life? And how will you respond?
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