The Advent Word for today is 'Greeting'.

We're now well into the season of Christmas Greetings. Christmas is almost here. Some greetings arriving by card, text, email, phone call or in person come as a surprise. Someone you had not expected to greet you makes contact because this time is special.

I cannot think of a more surprising greeting or more surprising visitor than the one Mary the mother of Jesus received in Nazareth a little over 2000 years ago.

In the image (above) of an icon of the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel appears eager to deliver his surprising greeting to Mary. There is also a suggestion that the angel is bowing the knee as if in obeisance to this ordinary but uniquely chosen and favoured young woman. Gabriel begins with the sort of greeting people expected to give to powerful and important people. I think I will let Luke tells the story:

'In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said,

"Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you."

But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her,

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Mary said to the angel,

"How can this be, since I am a virgin."

The angel said to her,

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. for nothing will be impossible with God."

Then Mary said,

"Here am I, the servant of the Lord; 
let it be with me according to your word."

Then the angel departed from her.'