Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Small and slow

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, which commemorates the arrival of the angel Gabriel in Nazareth to bring to the virgin Mary the news that she was to be the bearer of God's Son.  Whilst we celebrate the incarnation most obviously at Christmas, the Annunciation reminds us that the story didn't start with the birth in Bethlehem or the angelic chorus in the sky, but with the eternal Son of God taking on flesh in the womb of the virgin.

Traditionally, 25th March was also believed to be the day when Christ died; it was also believed to be the day when Adam was created!  Whether you can realistically put a date on that, I rather doubt, but symbolically it was important: in Jesus, we see the new creation, and the new Adam; but that new creation is not displayed until he has passed through death and been raised (the parallel between the womb and tomb was often stressed).  So, a momentous day - there is a good reason why Tolkien had the ring of power destroyed and Sauron vanquished on the 25th March!

This morning I've been thinking about another aspect of the Annunciation.  Here was the most astonishing thing that had ever happened - God in the womb, God in flesh!  The possessor of eternity stepping into human time.  Astonishing, but also really, really small.  I've been thinking about the apparent insignificance of this most significant event, the hiddenness of it.  I've been thinking about the fact that the Lord didn't fast-forward through human development; he was, for nine months, in the womb, and then grew up as a child amongst children.  It was small, and it was slow; this great new beginning.

The limitations on our lives at the moment, brought on as a necessary response to disease, are pervasive.  Everything is small and slow right now.  None of the big events we had planned are going to happen; nothing but daily plodding faithfulness in the home (and for a few the workplace).  Getting anything done takes ages, and there doesn't seem to be as much time as there used to be (although, by the end of the 'school' day, near infinite time seems to have passed...)

God doesn't seem bothered by the constraints of small and slow.  Maybe I shouldn't be either.

After all, think what great and eternal fruit came from this beginning.

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