The Annunciation of our Lord
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
For many years I have held a deep affinity for the plight of the Palestinian people, even more so now when I, in horror, watch the recent happenings in Ukraine and the unjust persecution of Ukrainian people by another Russian dictator (Yes, Russia did this and worse to Ukraine in the 1930’s & 40’s). It is hard to believe that in our ‘enlightened times’ an invasion can still occur – and that our world continues to turn a blind eye to the similar injustice in Palestine and readily blames the much less powerful victim!
in 2009 my wife Libby and I spent a month in Palestine, staying at the Dar Al-Kalima guesthouse, which was part of a Lutheran University in a little town called Bethlehem. During our stay, we hired a car from Jerusalem and travelled to the north of Israel visiting Bethsaida, the Sea of Galilee, Cana and Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel. A friend at Dar Al-Kalima recommended we stay at the peaceful St Margaret’s Guesthouse, sitting on top of a hill in the northeast part of the city with commanding views of Nazareth, the Basilica of the Annunciation, and the rest of the old city. Nazareth was noisy, bustling, vibrant, seemingly chaotic, incredibly historic and utterly fascinating!
There is a lot of good in Nazareth and what’s more, even better things have come out of it!
We walked from our accommodation to the stunning Church of the Anunciation and after a brief tour, walked onto the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation right next to Mary’s Well. Surprisingly to me, Mary’s Well where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, is not actually mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. Our version of this story that includes Mary being visited at the well, comes from an old manuscript called the ‘Infancy Gospel of James’ or the ‘Protoevangelium of James’ (which was not included in the Bible), which begins Chapter 11 with, ‘1And she took her water jar and went out to fill it with water. 2Suddenly there was a voice saying to her, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.”’
All this day, O Lord,
let me touch as many lives as possible for you;
and every life I touch, may you by your spirit bring to life,
whether through the word I speak,
the prayer I breathe,
or the life I live.
Mary Sumner’s personal prayer
The Festival of the Annunciation (25 March) remembers and celebrates this historic and miraculous event each year, and is known in some quarters as, Lady’s Day! Mary Sumner, whose daughter had just given birth in 1876, ‘reflected on the importance of motherhood and envisaged calling women of all social classes to support one another.’ and as a result, formed the Mother’s Union which, in 1897 adopted this day as an ‘annual day of prayer, intercession and thanksgiving’
Perhaps, in the light this, and in reflection of the recent injustices in Ukraine and the horrors endured by Ukrainian people; the injustice in Palestine itself and the plight of Palestinian people; the invasion of indigenous lands throughout the world; and, in honour of the intent and the theme of Lady’s Day, the affliction in our own society that has resulted in domestic violence against women, this is a good day to join with the Mothers’ Union and pray for all in our land and beyond who are no longer safe in their own home, in their own hometown or in their own country – the innocent victims of unbridled power and control through domestic violence, colonialisation and military invasion!
Learning Leader: Identity