Her Beautiful and Awful Yes

posted Dec 9, 2022, 10:31 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you in this season of Advent!


This Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of joy when we light the pink candle. As we do so, we remember Mary’s visit from the messenger Gabriel along with her beautiful song, The Magnificat that she sang to her cousin Elizabeth, and really as a blessing for the world.


Heaven and earth must have trembled when God announced that God was going to come down to earth to become one of us, and change the world as everyone knew it, and even more so when Mary said yes to God’s plan. I wonder how Gabriel felt when he arrived at Mary’s house that day, and declared her the favored one . . .


“Gabriel’s Annunciation” (Jan Richardson) 


For a moment I hesitated on the threshold. For the space of a breath I paused, unwilling to disturb her last ordinary moment, knowing that the next step would cleave her life: that this day would slice her story in two, dividing all the days before from all the ones to come. The artists would later depict the scene: Mary dazzled by the archangel, her head bowed in humble assent, awed by the messenger who condescended to leave paradise to bestow such an honor upon a woman, and mortal. Yet I tell you it was I who was dazzled, I who found myself agape when I came upon her— reading, at the loom, in the kitchen, I cannot now recall; only that the woman before me— blessed and full of grace long before I called her so— shimmered with how completely she inhabited herself, inhabited the space around her, inhabited the moment that hung between us. I wanted to save her from what I had been sent to say. Yet when the time came, when I had stammered the invitation (history would not record the sweat on my brow, the pounding of my heart; would not note that I said Do not be afraid to myself as much as to her) it was she who saved me— her first deliverance— her Let it be not just declaration to the Divine but a word of solace, of soothing, of benediction for the angel in the doorway who would hesitate one last time— just for the space of a breath torn from his chest— before wrenching himself away from her radiant consent, her beautiful and awful yes.


A beautiful and awful yes from a fierce, feisty, full of faith Mary whom God knew and trusted to birth and love Emmanuel, God with us.


Come this Third Sunday of Advent at 10:30 AM in person or on Facebook live to celebrate the God of joy with your church family. We have special music for this Sunday with Mayumi Grasso playing on cello “Absence” and “Adagietto.” Our New Jericho Choir will sing “In Christ Alone” for the Message for all Ages and “Peace” for our Benediction. I will be preaching from Luke 1.26-55 and my sermon title is Fierce, Feisty, Full of Faith Mary. And next week make sure to come to church as it is our annual Children’s Christmas Pageant, “For Unto Us a Child is Born” written by Nancy Coffin. After worship we will have our church Christmas party in Coventry House, complete with a visit from Santa and his elves.


A gentle reminder: as this is flu season and Covid still lingers among us, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and watch church online. This is for the health of you and for the safety of others. Thank you for your cooperation.


I look forward with joy to worshiping with you this Sunday!


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

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