Respect and honour have been shown to Mary as the mother of Jesus from early in the church’s history. The Feast of the Annunciation (Lady Day) focuses on one particular episode related to the vocation of Mary.
The observance of the feast appears to have emerged out of the late fourth and early fifth century debates over the person of Christ. It became widely observed soon after in the east and by the eighth century in the west. The church affirmed Christ’s full humanity as well as his full divinity. Christ’s oneness with our humanity is reflected in the exaltation of the role of Mary. In the controversies of the late fourth century she was affirmed as the “Mother of God”. The Annunciation is related to Christmas, which itself only began to be celebrated and find a fixed date on 25 December from the fourth century. The Annunciation is celebrated nine months before, on 25 March.
The Annunciation commemorates the event in Luke’s Gospel in which the angel Gabriel comes to Mary with the message that she is to bear a son (Luke 1:26-38). In telling Mary this, Gabriel also points to some key images by which Jesus is to be understood. He will be “Son of the Most High”; he will be the descendant of David who will reign for ever; he will be “Son of God”.
In Luke’s careful telling of the story there are strong parallels between the annunciation to Mary and the earlier annunciation to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:18-20). Both stories show strong echoes of the story of Abraham and Sarah and the birth of Isaac (Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7) and of the story of Hannah and the birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20). Mary is portrayed as the faithful and obedient servant of God who has found favour with God.
Third Sunday of Easter
8:00am Holy Communion (BCP)
10:00am Eucharist (ANZPB)
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