Greetings! Hosanna!

Today the church celebrates Palm Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week. This is a well-known church feast, and one many people look forward to. But this year, the calendar works out so that today the church also celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation, marking the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, and the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life. This may be a lesser-known feast to some, but there are some parallels between Palm Sunday and Annunciation Day that make me enjoy the felicitous calendar dates this year.

  • Both days are marked by exclamations. On Palm Sunday we hear the joyful shouts of the crowd: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” On Annunciation Day, we hear a different exclamation, when the angel appears to Mary and says: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
  • Both mark the start of something big. Palm Sunday begins the most somber week of the church year, the week where Jesus begins His final journey to the cross. Annunciation Day begins Jesus life on the earth with His conception. Both ultimately point to the same thing: Jesus’ triumph over sin and death, and the eternal life He won for us!
  • Both focus on Jesus as a son. On Palm Sunday, we hear the people calling for the “Son of the David”…not the direct son of the great king, but a descendant in David’s line, the one the people were hoping would  come with might and majesty to rescue them and claim the throne of His ancestor. On Annunciation Day, we hear Gabriel tell Mary that she will give birth a son, who will be not only a man, but also the Son of the Most High, God in the flesh!

I’ve always felt that there’s something especially Advent-y about Palm Sunday. This year, however, we get an even bigger glimpse of Adventide even as Lent winds down, as we hear the great announcement of Gabriel to Mary. The baby king in the crude manger is the same humble king who rode into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey.

Hosanna! Gloria! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

March 25–The Annunciation of Our Lord

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that God has shown her favor and will use her as the means for the Messiah’s birth. So Mary conceives Jesus when the angel says: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). This same Spirit who hovered over the waters and brought forth creation (Genesis 1:2) will now “hover over” the waters of Mary’s womb to conceive the creation’s Redeemer. As the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, she conceives Jesus “through her ear” (as Martin Luther says). The one who is conceived is called Holy, the Son of God. This is the moment of the incarnation of our Lord. The date of the Annunciation falls on March 25, because the Ancient Church believed the crucifixion occurred on that date. In antiquity, people linked the day of a person’s conception with the day of his or her death. Thus, in the Annunciation, the Church joined together both the incarnation of Jesus and the atonement He accomplished.

Hymn of the Day–The Annunciation

Yes, I know we’re still in Lent. But, today is also the day of The Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel was sent to the virgin Mary, to bring the message that she was to give birth to the Son of God. So, even in the midst of Lent, an Advent hymn can still be appropriate!

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
With wings as drifted snow, with eyes as flame;
“All hail to thee, O lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee;
Thy son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said.
“My soul shall laud and magnify God’s holy name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
“Most highly favored lady.” Gloria! Lutheran Service Book #356