Sunday Sermon – Brenda, AiM

blue4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT – Dec. 21, 2014     Brenda Tibbetts, AiM

TEXTS:  2 Samuel 7:1-11; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38 & Luke 1:46b-55

“THE ANNUNCIATION AND THE MAGNIFICAT”

“The Annunciation and the Magnificat”:  This morning’s gospel texts give us two beautiful insights into the heart of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.   The first text [Luke 1:26-38] is referred to as:

* The Annunciation

Luke’s Gospel tells us that the angel Gabriel is sent to speak to Mary.  He announces the good news that Mary has found favor with God!  Mary’s openness of heart to hearing the Word of the Lord, even in the most impossible of situations, as well as her obedience to offer herself to this important task God called her to, are amazing when we ponder her circumstances as well as her very young age.  Open hearts and minds are one thing.  Obedience is another.  Openness coupled with obedience is the mark of a disciple, a servant of the Lord.

Mary received a direct call from God for a specific, important task in her life.  How she would respond would not only have a direct impact on her life with her family or on the life of the world as she knew it in her own time – but for all of time.  That call would be a blessing – but it would know great challenge and even great pain.  Mary shows us that it is okay to ask the question, “How can this be?”  She was given free will to answer the Lord’s call, even as we are given free will to respond to the Lord.

But as is so often the case of “Call Stories” in the Bible, the messenger or message often begins and concludes with words of assurance.  “Do not be afraid…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”  In other words, God is with you!  “Nothing will be impossible for God.”

+ I wonder, in our own lives, how open are we to hearing God’s call to us?

+ Do we trust that the Holy Spirit will provide the courage needed to say “Yes!” and the needed strength to carry out “The Call” in obedience to God?

+ Are there areas in your life that you have a hard time believing that God can make the impossible possible?

Mary’s call began with an announcement of God’s favor.  The task was spelled out.  She was chosen to be the Mother of the Son of God!  Mary is totally perplexed.  Not fully understanding (and we surely would have been perplexed, too!) yet, she is given the assurance that this was God’s doing and God would be with her.

There is a sense of peace, acceptance and incredulous excitement that follows when Mary said “Yes” to God’s plan.  A humble, faithful servant, open and obedient, Mary marvels at the amazing ways God works in the life of God’s people – and she breaks forth into praising God with a song of trust and hope!

Our second Gospel reading [Luke 1:46b-55] is referred to as:

* The Magnificat

And Mary said, “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.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name…”

+ In our own lives and in the life of this congregation, how open are we to hearing God’s call to us? Even if that calling is to something new or something seemingly impossible?

+ Do we trust that the Holy Spirit will provide the courage needed to say “Yes!” and the needed strength and resources to carry out “The Call” in obedience to God?

+ Are there areas in your life that you have a hard time praising God?  Can we, will we, as a community of brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus proclaim, “The Mighty One has done great things for us, and holy is his name!”?

Mary’s Song of Praise is a beautiful witness/example of trust in the Lord for what God has done in the past, for what God was doing in the present and a proclamation of trust in what God will do in the future.

It is a Rallying Cry for those who are downtrodden and in need of hope. It is an Anthem of Praise for those open to following the Lord’s call. It is a Song of Remembrance bearing witness to God’s faithfulness throughout the generations.

And it has been, and continues to be, a Song of Threat for those in positions of abusive power.  There was a time in our own lifetimes, throughout Central and South America where it was illegal to read this passage of scripture.  Many priests and nuns were killed for sharing this Word of Hope to oppressed peoples.   We dare not take this scripture for granted…

The Magnificat, [Luke 1:46b-55] has been and continues to be the basis for Liberation Theology.  It promises there will be a time of judgment.  There will come a time – in God’s timing – when justice  will prevail and indeed, all things be set aright.  God hears the cries of the lowly and hungry.  They will be lifted up and they will be fed.  God’s heart is open to their plight.  God will act.  How we pray or sing or proclaim – or discredit or curse – Mary’s Magnificat, her Song of Praise to a Covenantal, Faithful, Steadfast Loving God – will depend on how open our hearts are to respond and to obey God’s calling in our lives.

+ In our own lives and in the life of this congregation, how open are we to singing Mary’s Song of Praise to the Most High God?

May the Holy Spirit come upon us all to hear the Word of the Lord and the power of the Most High overshadow us with courage and obedience to follow that Word that we, like Mary, might proclaim to all people, “Nothing is impossible for God!  The Mighty One has done great things for us, and holy is his name.  His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation…”

Here we are, the Servants of the Lord.  Let it be with us according to your word!  Amen.