TODAY is: Feast of the Annunciation of Blessed Virgin Mary: After the Angel Leaves by Phil Ware

[Whenever the Feast of the Annunciation falls on a Sunday like this year, this feast is celebrated on Monday.   Many Roman Catholics believe that Protestants do not have an appreciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This article by a Protestant minister proves that is notch case.]

In The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38),
Mary is visited by an angel named Gabriel and
she is told that she we will “conceive and give birth to a son”
and she is to give him the name, “Jesus.”
This child, this Jesus, will not just be any child,
but will be “the Son of the Most High.”
He will reign “on the throne of his father David” and
“over Jacob’s descendants forever” for “his kingdom will never end.”

Mary is astonished because there is one “little” problem:
she is a virgin, from Galilee, pledged in marriage to a man named Joseph.
Things like this — angels, Messiah-sons, and kingly royalty —
don’t happen to people like her, a poor girl from nowhere Nazareth
betrothed to a lowly carpenter!

Gabriel explains that this will be the work of the Holy Spirit
and that  Mary’s little boy will actually be the Son of God!
By some miracle of faith and surrender to the will of God,
Mary believes and accepts God’s plan:
“I am the Lord’s servant … May your word to me be fulfilled.”
This amazing intersection of heaven’s glory and humble humanity
ends with these five simple words: “Then the angel left her.”

Mary’s life will never be the same.
Mary can anticipate some of the scandal, difficulty, and shame
that her surrender to the way of God will bring her.
But “life after the angel leaves” will bring Mary
challenges that she cannot foresee,
pain she can barely endure, and
joy that is unequalled in human history.
This is always the way things are in “life after the angel leaves”!

You’ve been there, haven’t you?
Sure, not on the scale of Mary,
but you’ve had your taste of life before and “after the angel leaves”?
Faith, real faith like Mary shows us, is not for sissies.
Life is fresh, new, exciting as the journey begins on a new adventure —
an adventure you feel called to follow if you are to honor God.
It’s the thrill of beginning and the excitement of something new,
something fresh, something even a bit dangerous.
But then the new wears off, the shine is gone,
the new-car smell is replaced with dents, stains,
and some foul odor you can’t quite pinpoint.
This “life after the angel leaves”!

The angel appears several more times in Mary’s story.
The angel appears again because
Mary has to explain the inexplicable and
to assure Joseph that God can do the impossible
even in the womb of his virgin wife-of-betrothal* ( Mt 1:18-25).
Another time many angels appear to shepherds
to announce the birth of her son (Luke 2:1-21).
The angel shows up once again to help protect Mary’s child, Jesus (Mt 2:13-18). An angel even comes and ministers to Mary’s son when
Jesus is facing the anguish of the upcoming cross (Luke 22:44).
Yet in each of these appearances of angels,
we are never told that Mary saw the angel again —
he was there along with other angels working to fulfill God’s promise,
he just was not visible to Mary.

So there is a ring of finality in the words, “Then the angel left her.”
Like us, Mary would treasure the memory of that
great beginning, that holy moment,
but life would move from that spot and unfold with
hope and horror, tenderness and trauma, as well as goodness and grief.

Mary may not have always understood
what Jesus was doing or why God’s will would ultimately lead to a cross,
but she would hold on to her original words with faithfulness,
“I am the Lord’s servant … May your word to me be fulfilled.”
And she serves as an example to all of us who
find the going tough when the bloom is off the rose and
the luster has lost its shine on those first, exciting, joyous, commitments to Jesus.

Like Mary,
we live most of our lives “after the angel leaves.”
What we do in those
challenging moments, confusing dilemmas, long nights of the soul,
and dark passages of unspeakable grief will determine whether
Jesus lives in our hearts as the crucified-yet-resurrected Savior,
or if he becomes a confusing disappointment and
we give up our commitment to follow out of
disinterest, frustration, or disappointment.
So I’m encouraging us — you and me —
to hang on during those times just like Mary did.

Faith, real faith like Mary shows us, is not for sissies.
It is not for those looking for a guarantee of riches
or quick escape from the pain and challenges of this life.
The Lord’s blessing can sometimes feel like a burden,
but when we hold on to that first commitment to be the Lord’s servant,
the dawning day of resurrection and grace will come.
We will
share in Jesus’ victory and
walk with him in joyous fellowship, and
realize that the angel was right when he said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Such joy is ours in life, even “after the angel leaves.”

“After the Angel Leaves” by Phil Ware is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Heartlight encourages you to share this material with others in church bulletins, personal emails and other non-commercial uses.

Phil Ware is minister of the Word at Southern Hills Church in Abilene, Texas. For the past 10+ years, he has also been co-editor of HEARTLIGHT Magazine. For more details, click here.

Article

[Heartlight provides positive resources for daily Christian Living.   LINK TO HEARTLIGHT: http://www.heartlight.org%5D

[Illustration: Stained glass windows of the Annunciation in Trofa Church, Portugal. Photo by Joseolgon. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]

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About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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