December 21st, 2014 – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year B

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The simple, if surprising, story of the Annunciation lies at the heart of today’s liturgy, yet it can be easy to get stuck in there, as if the exchange between God’s messenger and Mary is just a historical detail to be remembered. But as important as Mary’s unique role is in the history of salvation, we, too, are called to let God’s Word take its place in our hearts today.

This is, perhaps, not an easy message to hear; the Annunciation is a little “safer” when it means just Mary! Can’t we just ride her coattails? Even more, how can we be worthy of such an honour?

It helps to remember that we, like Mary, have done nothing to merit our ministry as Christ-bearers. Just as Mary was “full of grace” – full of God’s “gift” – we, too, have been filled with God’s good gifts in baptism. And we can take comfort that God didn’t just come up with this yesterday; as Paul writes to the Romans; this good news is “the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages,” now announced for all to hear.

That “mystery,” however, refers not only to Christ’s birth, but to his whole work of salvation. If we wish to enter the Christmas mystery, we must embrace the mystery of the cross as well, and even as we make final preparations for a joyous Christmas, we pray that we may “be brought to the glory of his Resurrection” (Collect).