The story of the annunciation of Jesus’ birth is both shocking and scandalous. It is little wonder that Mary was disturbed when the angel announced that she, a young unmarried woman, would fall pregnant. Even more astounding was the news that the Son of God would grow in her womb!
Imagine how she would feel, the thoughts that would have flooded into her mind. She is engaged to be married, but her betrothed is not the father! How does she tell him? There would have been feelings of bewilderment as Mary tried to process all this.
How does she respond?
Mary knows that God is with her; she is surrounded by love. The angel tells her to not be afraid. When God takes the initiative, it is always a matter of love. What happens to Mary is unimaginable to us but as Luke’s gospel tells us, nothing is impossible with God.
The story of Mary, while very different in context, resonates with our work in places like Kenya, where we partner with the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) to protect the rights of women and children. Often women and girls find themselves in powerless positions, subject to the will of their family, and unable to direct their lives or access education. Many find themselves abandoned and living in poverty.
Our program in Kenya with ACK is educating communities about the rights of women and children, so they can advocate and negotiate for themselves. The program helps them access education and find ways to earn a living, supports networks for women who have experienced domestic violence, and helps community leaders promote respectful treatment of women.
The scandal and uncertainty that Mary was exposed to is experienced by many women in the world today. Anglican Overseas Aid exists because we want to surround vulnerable people with love. We want to make sure that people have no need to be afraid.
Please remember vulnerable women this Christmas, those who do not feel favoured but who are exposed to shame, judgment and a risky future. Help us to lift them up so they can rejoice in God their saviour, the one who lifts the lowly and fills them with good things.
The story of Jesus’ birth is contrasted in Luke’s Gospel with that of the birth of John the Baptist. Mary’s cousin and John’s mother, Elizabeth, was old and unable to have children. Both pregnancies were completely unexpected.
Both women would have felt highly vulnerable. An older woman giving birth to her first child late in life, and a young woman, a teenager, in a culture where women were often marginalised. The situation for both these women was very challenging.
Many women and girls in Kenya face extraordinary difficulties and an uncertain future. And COVID-19 has increased their vulnerability, placing their health, security and livelihoods at risk. This year has seen an increase in teenage pregnancy and child marriage coinciding with the shutdown of schools.
Our program in Kenya is designed to bring renewed hope through just and resilient communities with improved self-reliance, reduced vulnerability, and improved quality of life for all – particularly those who are most vulnerable, despite the immense challenges faced at this time.
The wonder of the Gospel is that it is always the lowly who are the bearers of hope. A young, unmarried teenager is chosen as the one who will bring hope and light into this world.
Please join us this Christmas and help us lift up those who are seen as lowly but who God welcomes as worthy.
To donate to our 2020 Christmas Appeal, click on the ‘Please Donate’ button below (choose ’01. 2020 Christmas Appeal’ from the ‘Donation’ drop-down menu) or call us on 1800 249 880.
Alternatively, you can send a cheque/money order made payable to Anglican Overseas Aid to:
Anglican Overseas Aid
PO Box 389
Abbotsford, VIC 3067