I’ve been thinking about angels today. I am preparing for an Advent Assembly at the primary school and thinking about how we receive messages, and then focussing on Gabriel’s message to Mary. I love this image from Nigeria called Annunciation, by Paul Woelfel.
I love that both the angel and Mary are ordinary Nigerians, though the suggestion of the halo over Mary’s head and the dove fluttering between Gabriel and Mary suggest God’s Spirit is already at work. In the image Mary is both questioning and accepting her role as the mother of God’s son. Her finger pointing at herself seems to be saying, ‘Who me?’ and her raised hand signifies acceptance: ‘God’s will be done.’
I love that the messenger has taken off his shoes, for he is on holy ground, and that the message itself is so holy that he presents it on a stick so as not to sully it.
Traditional Annunciation pictures often have lilies in them, symbolising purity and death. In the foreground of Woelfel’s picture there are indications of what is to come in the stylised flowers. The cross is not so far away.
There will be all sorts of messages coming to us over these next few days and weeks up to Christmas: ‘Buy me!’, ‘Make Christmas magical!’, ‘It’s really for the children’. If we listen very hard we might hear other messages, of desperate need in the world, of cruelty and violence, of loneliness, of stress and worry.
When Gabriel came to Mary, even though his news would turn her world upside down, he brought a word of comfort too: ‘Peace be with you! The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you!’
I’m wondering what angels we might meet over these days, and whether we ourselves might be bringers of God’s peace into our here and now.