Protestants generally have paid little attention to the lesser feast days that have been set aside by the Church – and for the most part, we have done so for very sound reasons. But there are some feast days that it might be well for us to remember and commemorate – and one of these is today, the Feast of the Incarnation (or Feast of the Annunciation).
This feast commemorates Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would conceive a Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Since the celebration of Jesus’ birth was set on December 25, this feast was set nine months earlier, on March 25.
We commonly think of December 25 as the day we celebrate Jesus’ incarnation – but actually, Christmas is the celebration of His birth (the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord). His INCARNATION, the day on which He took on human flesh, occurred nine months previous when Mary conceived Him in her womb.
The Church has always believed that human life begins at conception. So appropriately, it has celebrated the incarnation of our Lord on March 25 – a day that falls during the season of Lent – as the day on which Jesus was conceived.
And, it seems to me this is a most helpful feast for us to observe – and it is so for at least a couple of reasons:
1. It’s an important testimony to the world (and a timely reminder for Christians) that life begins at conception. Jesus became man on the day He was conceived in His mother’s womb, NOT on the day of His birth. In a day when this reality is widely denied, it is a good and helpful thing for the Church to stand and testify to the truth that life begins at conception – and the fact that we can do it with a celebration makes it all the better.
2 But it’s also another opportunity for us to rejoice and remind ourselves again of God’s grace and love in giving us His Son. It’s helpful in the midst of the season of Lent to have a time set aside to give thanks that Jesus came for us, to give His life as a ransom for us, delivering us from condemnation, death, and the devil, freeing us from the dominion of sin and darkness, and enabling us to walk in newness of life as lights in the world.
So, take time today to rejoice over God’s great mercies to us in giving us the greatest of all gifts! And if you can have a party, please do so! Nothing is more worthy of celebration than the coming of our Lord.
“Lord God, we ask that you would pour your grace into our hearts; that as we have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, by his cross and passion may we be brought to the glory of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”