Today we celebrate one of the twelve great feasts of the Church, the Annunciation of the Theotokos. Appropriately named, this feast brings about ‘good news’ for the world. The Archangel Gabriel brings news to the young virgin Mary that she will give birth to a boy who will grow up to be the Savior of the world. For us as faithful Christians, the purpose of this visit seems rather logical to announce a conception although it is an incomprehensible miracle that a virgin would conceive. But the larger meaning for this feast is the news that the world needed the direct intervention of God in order to restore humankind to the glory for which it was intended at the time of Creation. Essentially God entered the world as a baby and suffered and sacrificed himself to restore the glory and beauty of His people.
This year as we are not able to celebrate this feast as we do every year I would like to offer you ‘good news’ from the Lord God who is announced into the world. The brokenness that affects our entire world at this time is overwhelming and we are afraid and, some of us, in great danger. The first word of good news I wish to share is ‘assurance’ that God will always be with us, as the Evangelist Matthew reminds us “...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (Matt 28:20) The second word of good news is ‘comfort’ from our Lord God, precisely as the Apostle Paul instructs his congregation in Corinth “... who comforts us in all tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
While these days are made dark and fearful by this world pandemic; the truth is we still have many comforts. Most of us have a warm home in which to stay and are able to continue to work from home. Most of us are not going to experience hunger or any grave need. We have an incredible amount of entertainment available to us via modern day technologies, which would have been unthinkable only a generation earlier. However, there are people even in our communities who may not have the same level of hope for assurance of God’s presence nor the comforts of the basics of life as we do.
Dear friends in the Merciful Lord, I find myself filled with hope and assured of the Spirit of God moving about in our midst because even though we are separated we are indeed united in prayer. The comfort I enjoy in spite of the limitations, gives me an opportunity to find ways to attend to the needs of a brother or sister who lacks some of those basics of life. I urge all of us to find ways to share Christ’s assurance and comfort with everyone we can.
This brief article was originally written for the "Separate But United" series of Pastoral Messages and published on the Metropolis of Chicago website on Annunciation Day, 25 March 2020!