March 25th. The day we always celebrate the Annunciation—that incredible day when Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she’d be pregnant, 9 months before we celebrate Jesus’ birth.
But this year, the day of Annunciation is also Good Friday for the Western church. While we celebrate the Annunciation, we mourn the Good Friday.
Bittersweet. Earthly beginning, and then an end of earthly bonds. But on that actual Friday, none had yet experienced the sweet, only the bitter.
And yet I think the beginning had echoes of that bittersweet, too.
Though when we picture young Mary being told she would be with child by the Holy Spirit’s overshadowing, we see it with a beautiful, sweet light, it wouldn’t be like a married woman announcing her pregnancy with joy. Betrothed, but as yet unmarried Mary, if found with child, would be declared unfaithful to her betrothed, and divorced in a way that would bring her and her family great shame, practically guaranteeing lifelong singleness.
We are happy when we think of the Annunciation, but was she? What kind of favor makes an unmarried woman pregnant? And yet, she only asks, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34, NIV) When Gabriel answers, she states what may be some of the most fearless words ever stated, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38, NIV).
Mary was aware of the negative possibilities that faced her. And with a bold, impressive confidence, she said yes. I wonder what her thoughts were that night, and then the three months that she spent with Elizabeth. Perhaps it was bittersweet. Sweet to follow God, bitter in the unknowing, in the fear of Joseph’s response. Sweet to carry life, bitter in the fact that the angel did not stay by her side to tell all whose the child was.
Yet Mary faced the bittersweet with a strong, bold confidence at the Annunciation. Mary faced the bittersweet with a strong, bold confidence at the Annunciation. Click To Tweet
And so did her Son, on Good Friday. Jesus boldly and confidently faced the bittersweet, though at that point he and all those around him could only taste the bitter.
So today, we celebrate the Annunciation and we mourn the Good Friday. May we be like Mary and Jesus; may we boldly and confidently say yes to God, even as we recognize the bittersweet.