Today’s reading is a very familiar one: the Annunciation. I have already heard it read at half a dozen carol services this year. But it’s a passage I love, and I’ve always identified strongly with Mary in this bit of the story. Her reaction to this astonishing divine encounter is not a dramatic one. She is perplexed. She considers what is being said to her. And she responds with powerful simplicity. But she takes the encounter deeply to heart, and is changed by it.
Mary “pondered what sort of greeting this might be”, which inevitably brings to mind one of my favourite verses of scripture, Luke 2.19: “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart”. The picture we get of Mary here is one of a contemplative, a deep thinker, turning over in her mind the extraordinary things God is doing in her life, deeply assimilating the experience of divine revelation.
How do we react to encounter with the divine? Do we rush to tell someone, to do something? Or do we ponder it in our hearts, and go on pondering it, even as we say yes to God’s plans for us?
it is perhaps my own faith journey which makes me prefer the latter. I have never experienced a sudden encounter with God, a road-to-Damascus moment. Rather, I have drawn closer to God (and will, I trust, continue to) by increments, pondering each tiny development along the way. I daresay that is due more to my own nature than any particular insight into the workings of God, but it’s helpful to know that I’m in good company with Mary, another of life’s ponderers!