A very young woman, promised in marriage to a working class guy, gets a visit from an other-worldly being who says that she will bear God’s child.
She wonders how she will become pregnant since she’s a virgin, but this is explained.
She then responds that she is God’s servant; let’s go ahead.
So many things about that are unbelievable. Not to mention that a pregnant woman, not yet living with her husband, would be the scorn of her people. Life would be miserable. Although, the carpenter saves her honor by marrying her.
The Feast of the Annunciation, celebrated on March 25 on many Christian calendars, celebrates that very story, as told in Luke’s Gospel in much more poetic terms. This event has inspired leagues of artists to represent that moment which would change the course of Mary’s life and, would bring the Christ into the world. This event is followed closely by Mary’s visit to her cousin, also with child. Mary’s glorious declaration of faith, now known as the Magnificat, later inspired Bach to compose his majestic choral work.
I can recount a few times when saying “yes” was life-saving:
- On September 7, 1996, I said, “Yes” and came out.
- On July 3, 2002, I said, “Yes” and got sober.
- In April 2006, I said, “Yes” and showed up at church again (this time, Episcopal).
This last event was, in fact, soon after the Feast of the Annunciation, which left me pondering, deeply, what that story could mean for my life. It would not leave me alone. I realized, in conversation with a few trusted soul friends, that I had put up barriers to organized religion for many years and perhaps it was time to lay them aside and just show up. I was scared. But I was not left to do it alone. So many wonderful people welcomed me, and continue to help me on this leg of the journey. And, although I am still unsure of many things, I still think the Episcopal church is right for me. I am very grateful for that.
But, my “yes”, in all 3 cases, was preceded by years of saying “no”. I said “no” out of fear – fear of change, the unknown, of loss – or perhaps because I was unable to imagine what my life could be like if I said “Yes”. Or, perhaps just because it all seemed impossible.
Marcus Borg, in his book The Heart of Christianity , offers several meanings of the word “faith”, only one of which means “assent”. He speaks of faith as how we view the world – do we see it as a place of life-giving abundance? If so, we will act from that. Don Bisson, in one of his lectures on Individuation and Scripture, talks about the consequences of not accepting the divine prompts.
Both ring true for me, based on my own lived experience. My “no’s” came at great cost to myself and others. My decisions to say “yes” have given me joys unimaginable before-hand. Not to mention peace, as if that were some small matter. And, after each “yes”, there was an abundance of blessings – people, resources, etc. Of course, there were also difficulties, but, all were met with tremendous support from others.
My hope is that I continue to say “yes” to the divine prompts. And I encourage you to do the same.
For nothing, as they say, is impossible with God.