Mary Says "Yes" to God
I speak to you in the name of the Lord Jesus which comes to us in the humbleness of the most fragile creature to be the saviour of the world. Amen
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”
These are the opening words of Mary, the mother of Jesus in a poem from our reading of Luke today in what has become known as the Magnifcat.
“MY soul magnifies the Lord,
MY spirit rejoices
God MY Savior
looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”
At Christmas, even the most Protestant among us can be drawn into the contemplation of Mary.
You see, Protestants are not taught the same things about Mary as our Catholic brothers and sisters
· like her perpetual virginity,
· her freedom from actual and original sin (Immaculate Conception)
· and the notion that she did not die but was taken directly to heaven (Bodily Assumption).
- One could also get leary about exalted language of Mary - or any other saint for that matter
And can feel uncomfortable when praise comes close to worshiping anyone other than God,
but as Anglicans, with our catholic heritage, we do choose to honor or venerate the saints
But today in the 4th Sunday of Advent
which in this year last till 4pm - when we switch to Christmas eve
today, we are reminded of the incredible role that Mary played in the story of Jesus the Christ
A role that is not to be dismissed to quickly
A role that has given her the title of theotokos
- “bearer of God” (from our Catholic brothers and sisters)
A role that - In some mysterious way the incarnation is the result, not only from the work of God the Father, but also from the WILL of the Mother Mary.
You see Mary needed to say “Yes” to God
Mary a young girl of 13, or 14 or 15
- From an insignificant humble family
- betrothed (engaged if you like) to Joseph but not yet married
- who had not been with Joseph in the biblical sense - a virgin
- who knew the law stated that she could be stoned to death for having a child out of wedlock
Mary said Yes
in fact Luke records Mary’s response to the vision of the Angel Gabriel as follows:
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
And by her commitment and faith changed the course of history
The phrase “God works in mysterious ways”
is one of those catch all statements,
that is so often used to explain anything that we don’t understand or want to take the time to figure out
it is used, in my experience, more often then not completely out of context often having nothing to do with God and his work at all
But today if in looking with eyes not tuned to the big picture - the master design
One can see how true that statement must have felt to Mary and all those connected with her
Connected to the story of Mary’s miraculous pregnancy is the miraculous pregnancy of her relative - Elizabeth
Make no mistake Luke intends that we catch more then two miracles by putting the stories together - there are layers of meaning of the stories to be connected together
Consider Mary’s eagerness is to be connected with her sense of shared destiny with Elizabeth in miraculous motherhood
Consider how Elizabeth does not wish or offer blessing to Mary, but recognizes blessedness
Affirms to Mary - by the power of the Holy Spirit - what is happening to Mary
- she says:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Consider John’s purpose in his life - that he is to be John the Baptizer
How the miracle of John's birth to two aged parents is great
The miracle of Jesus' birth to a young virgin is greater.
John is to be the last of the OT style prophets that point the way to God
Even in the womb and the miraculous pregnancies John is to be the forerunner of Jesus and the lesser of the two
Considering that even today, explaining an unexpected and unaccounted for pregnancy is a dilemma.
But how much more so in an age when women were commonly regarded as the property of men.
There were serious social and perhaps even life threatening consequences for women caught in this situation.
God is providing Mary with a powerful affirmation she needed for what will lay ahead
I would like to share with you my own experience of God moving in my life and then providing a message of affirmation
On Madison’s 3rd birthday 2002, which was a Sunday, during the service, I felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit, it felt as is I was washed over.
I felt (I didn’t hear any voices) that it was time, it was time to stop saying “later” and that I was to devote more then a fraction of my existence to God but my whole self and that I was to be working full time to furthering God’s good news of the Gospel.
I was uncontrollably weeping for the balance of the service, overwhelmed and unable to speak.
A lady sitting behind came forward after the service and touched me on the shoulder and simply said
“ your lucky… it’s your time”,
she knew and I knew.
She affirmed in me the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit
and affirmed for me a clear message
I had the opportunity to ask her about it a year or so later and she remembered the need to come up to me and tell me that God loved me
But that is not what she said
what she did actually say was much more powerful for me at that moment
and I believe can only be explained as the work of the Holy Spirit
Let us consider also in our readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent - The prophecy of Micah which connects the birth of the Messiah with Bethlehem
It is mentioned first in the NT from the gospel of Matthew and then it comes up again in John 7 - where the crowd is confronted with the issue of Jesus’ identity
And Nathanael asks of the region in general "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" (John 1:46)
From a town that was small, seemingly insignificant place
A region viewed in low esteem from Jewish history
A place only mention briefly in connection to David
A place where shepherds come from
A dark place
But the light came into the darkness
God choose that place of insignificant merit to bring into the world - his Son
The king of kings
The Lord of Lords
The true shepherd from the family-line and place of shepherds
The saviour of the world
God choose Bethlehem
And God choose Mary
The young - insignificant - humble girl
God works in mysterious ways
The text today tells us that God does bless us
amid the mess - the small and the darkness of life.
God blessed Mary in a messy time of her life
Yes. And in the same way, in our darkness and our emptiness
The Lord is coming
Ready or not
Jesus is coming
This Christmas (tomorrow) into the places in you - that are gloomy, angry, or jealous,
your places of darkness or smallness
Jesus is coming
And you have the choice
to say Yes