“Mary, do not be afraid.”
Monday, 21 December 2020
“Do not be afraid.” This powerful story of the annunciation begins with these reassuring words. The movement of God acting on our hearts and lives is often daunting. Sometimes even terrifying. God disrupts our lives and our sense of control to invite us to something beyond what we could have imagined. Mary seems fairly calm all things considered. I wonder whether this deep inner knowledge of God’s invitation came to Mary in a one-off encounter with the angel or whether the story could be a way of explaining a dawning recognition that grew over weeks or months as Mary prayed and lived into the new reality.
The ability to respond to the injunction not to be afraid supposes that we know that we can trust God. Mary would have been acutely aware of the reputational damage and even the possibility of being stoned if her out-of-wedlock pregnancy were to be discovered. The only way that she could have consented to God’s action in this situation was out of trust in the one who created her. And we can only really fully trust when there is a relationship -when we know that the other loves us completely.
Given the challenges of this pandemic year in our sense of control has been taken away, the uncertainties may feel overwhelming. Can we trust that God is always bringing something new to birth in us, though in the early weeks and months of pregnancy, we may not know what God is doing in us? God is continually making space in us for God to be born anew. As the mystic Meister Eckhart said: “We are all meant to be mothers of God for God is always needing to be born.”