Today is the second in a December and January series on Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Following Sarah Arthur‘s new book, Light Upon Light (which I can’t recommend more highly), this second week looks at the theme “Annunciations.” You can find week one here. Check back each Saturday to see what’s new, and in the meantime, enter in and enjoy!
Sometimes – like this morning – the HBH (Hot Black Husband) and I decide to put on our Brave Hats and navigate downtown San Francisco, with two young children in tow. Generally speaking, we’ve not enough coffee in the morning when this decision is made, but the pull to ride the train! train! for Cancan’s amusement and get off at the Powell Street station to see Christmas in all its glitz and glory, is a weighty one. So we go for it.
While doing so, many such announcements are made to the general public, including but not limited to:
This – this screaming, restless saint of a tired child right here – is why you should be nice to all parental-looking people you encounter.
Two-year-olds: they’re not for the faint of heart.
Escalators are the cheapest form of entertainment available out there; head to your local mall and try one out today!
Likewise, no shortage of relief exists once we’re home, safe and sound in the nest of comfort and routine. Announcements continue to persist, in which I go from giver to receiver. No longer do I inadvertently proclaim birth control to all Nordstrom patrons, but upon opening my laptop, I am inundated with messages: Save 15% today! Free shipping! (E-mail). We just saw Santa! My kid cried when he was forced to sit on a stranger’s lap – you gotta try this! (Facebook). Win me! Quote me! Retweet me! (Twitter).
And like Bill Murray’s Groundhog’s Day, the cycle repeats, over and over again – with the same announcements, and the same mind-boggling inundation of information, and the same breathless beggary to consume and partake and buy more.
Maybe that’s why I like the simple clarity of a single announcement, of an isolated interaction between a young girl and an angel. And this announcement of the Incarnation – of God becoming fleshy man in the form of a baby – landed itself its own definition: annunciation.
We don’t know where Mary and Gabriel were when the Great Announcement took place, when he showed up to let her know that she was highly favored.
We know that this teenager didn’t understand it right away; she didn’t get why God chose her, and she didn’t get the whole Holy Spirit impregnation thing (and neither do I, let’s be honest). And we know her response, at least the response passed down through centuries of oral tradition: Yes. I accept. I’m in.
Because there, somewhere underneath Galilean stars, a holy moment birthed itself between God’s messenger and a bewildered teenager. If Mary, exalted as she is, is anything like adolescents today, I’m guessing she left that conversation still caring about what others thought about her, still desiring to not have a Jerusalem camera crew following her every 16 & Pregnant move around town, still begging to not be announced and talked about behind other people’s backs.
Maybe that’s why this week’s advent theme is not just called annunciation, but annunciations. Although the moment was singular, the message was bountiful: You are chosen. You’re the one to carry the son, the son, that is. Because things are gonna change through this birth, believe you me.
Announcements, where “immensity cloister’d in thy dear womb.”*
Announcements to a girl “whose womb was a place/ Of middle kind…”**
Announcements that plead us beg, “Deliver, and make us, to both ways free.”
So what announcements will you hear today? Might we all tune our ears to a different, softer, magic-filled kind of announcing inundation today.
Announcements: what are your ears hearing on an everyday December basis? And what do you need to tune into today? Happy Advent!
* = “Annunciation” by John Donne
** = A prayer by John Donne0