Yesterday was March 25th known to many as the Feast of the Annunciation. It falls 9 months before Christmas because it is the celebration of the Angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God.
It is a holiday celebrated most famously in Sweden with waffles and in other countries with circular cakes (like bunt cakes) to symbolize eternity or seed cakes (like poppy seed) to represent new life. It is a festive day and when it falls in the middle of Lent it can feel a bit jarring. Here we have been meditating on death and repentance and are suddenly thrust into a something that feels more like a baby shower.
There are some things which can’t be taught in books, they must be lived to be known. One of the gifts of the liturgical calendar, is that through its various seasons and holidays it teaches us to experience life in the light of our faith in Christ.
This year I had several friends who faced the death of a loved one right at Christmas time. They had no choice but to grieve and celebrate in the same breath. These sorts of emotional juxtapositions always be gut retchingly difficult. Yet living year by year through the liturgical seasons we are offered a foretaste of the multi-dimensional nature of our emotional life. In following the seasons we are encouraged to explore the depths of our own souls in both joy and sorrow, to bring our hearts before God, and to align ourselves with the life of the church. When triumph is followed by disaster we have a sense of the path to take, we have walked it and we know where to fix our eyes. In the darkness of the tomb we wait for the light of resurrection.
So happy Feast of the Annunciation to you and I pray that the remainder of lent is a beautiful time of reflection as we anticipate the celebration of Easter that is to come.
For more on the liturgical year, check out this book.