Church of England Diocese of Manchester St. Paul, Bury

The Unseen Journey

20 Dec 2020, midnight
Church_news From_the_Vicar Notices

The Unseen Journey (Luke 1:26-38)

We are familiar with the Annunciation, the request from God to Mary via Gabriel. And, because we are familiar with it, we possibly let our eyes glance over the story, knowing how it all pans out. She says “yes” and the rest is history.

In our familiarity, we know that the story is not quite as simple as we learned in Sunday School. Mary was unmarried and unmarried pregnant girls had even less status in society than now. Mary was alone with a man (or male Angel anyway) and that was a social taboo. Mary was the responsibility of her male relatives so their failure to protect her was going to be awkward for them too. We are aware that this moment, often framed in school nativity plays as a moment of wonder, is actually a moment fraught with complications.

Mary goes on a journey. The nature of storytelling is that this journey is condensed into a few short sentences. In reality, it is a complex journey of transformation. It is for this reason, not for the fluffy child-friendly nativity play memories, that Christians find this story endlessly compelling. It is for this reason that painters, musicians, poets, film-makers, have tried to do more than catch the moment. It is not a ‘moment’ event. It is a deep existential experience. What catches our attention is Mary’s reaction to it because this story asks us what our reaction to the request of God might be.

So what is this transformational journey that Mary goes on? There are three strands, reminding us that transformation worthy of the name never just touches one element of our lives.

Peasant to prophet. From hiding in the back of the house, away from strangers, as required by cultural norms, Mary sings the Magnificat. This hidden girl will be sung about by all generations.

Mary to Mother of God. I am not sure how to put that into any other words. It’s a bit mind-bending.

Denial to Disciple. We hear Mary’s rehearsal of reasons why this cannot be a thing. And we hear Mary moving to say “bring it on.”

Christmas beckons. Could it be, for you, a time of transformational journey?