The Annunciation

Today Christians around the world celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation in which the church remembers the moment in Luke 1:26-38 when Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that she is chosen to bear and deliver the Christ child, Jesus.

The Feast of the Annunciation is also nine months before Christmas — a connection lost on most, and is itself the reason December 25 was selected by the church and not an attempt to commandeer Sol Invictus or any other solstice celebration. Read more on how Christmas came to be December 25 from the Biblical Archeology Review.

The painting of the Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner is a favorite depiction. It is a striking portrayal. A young woman in her bed chamber interrupted in the midst of her prayers it seems. A banner hangs for privacy, yet its striking red and horizontal line coupled with the vertical angel and Mary’s own verticality draw a connection to a cross. The blue robe to the left is the traditional color in which Mary is depicted and which she has yet to take up. Mary Elizabeth Podles has a helpful article in Touchstone Magazine. but I think it is behind a paywall. The model for the painting was a Swedish-American opera singer named Jessie Olsson whom Tanner married a year later.

Two years ago, GPC worship leader, Michael Kuehn, wrote a song about the moment as a part of greater project called, Where Are You.

March 25 also marks another anniversary though fantastical and literary. For the Lord of the Rings crowd, this day marks the day when the Great Ring was destroyed in the fires of Mt Doom and Sauron was defeated.

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