Mary Says "Yes" to God

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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

            like Mary

                        to say Yes

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