Summary: In this wonderful little passage we have the great MAGNFICANT but God has also given us some wonderful Christmas Stockings surprises - 1. John's leap of joy 2. Elizabeth's encouragement and humility 3. Mary's reassurances via the Holy Spirit
Theme: Advent # 4 God's Christmas Stockings
Scripture: Luke 1:39-55
Proposition: In this wonderful little passage we have the great MAGNFICANT but God has also given us some wonderful Christmas Stockings surprises - 1. John's leap of joy 2. Elizabeth's encouragement and humility 3. Mary's reassurances via the Holy Spirit
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from evil! Praise His Holy Name!
It's so easy this time of the year to get caught up in all the peripheral stuff of the Christmas season. People get anxiety ridden over parties, gift buying and family gatherings. It is easy to forget the true meaning of the Advent and Christmas season.
Growing up my parents made it a priority that each of their children would experience a wonderful Christmas season. They did their best to make sure that we received the one or two gifts that we wanted the most. They would ask if we would make a list and then mom would carefully listen to us throughout the year to find out what we like in the areas of clothes, toys and games. We may not have received everything we wanted but we could always be assured of at least one or two fantastic gifts on Christmas morning.
However, for me the highlight of our Christmas morning was not in ripping open all the big gifts. It was the time we got to open up our stockings. For in those stocking were all kinds of little surprises. They may be an apple or an orange, a banana or a tangerine. There may be some Hersey kisses, a candy cane or even some bubble gum. There may be a candy bar or a little bag of peanuts. You just never knew what kind of little surprises mom or dad would put in our stockings. To open your stocking was as much fun if not more fun than opening all the big gifts.
Now, years later I get to be the one who prepares stockings for my children. I now know how much fun and enjoyment my parents had in making them for us children. And my children like all the little surprises of candy, gum, lip balm, pony tail clips and other little surprises they we can find.
In our Gospel passage this morning we of course can read the "big gift" - the song of Mary or as it is usually called THE GREAT MAGNIFICANT. It is a song that in Christians circles ranks alongside the Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes. It is a song that resonates with a young girl's faith in her Lord. It is an expression of God's love, mercy and grace. It is a song that speaks of God righting wrongs and making all things right in the here and now. It is majestic, world changing and full of praise. It is THE MAGNIFICANT.
We could spend hours just looking at Mary's song. But this morning, I would like for us to turn our attention to what we could call some "Christmas stocking" surprises that surround Mary's song. For they in themselves have some wonderful things to share with us this 4th Sunday of Advent.
I. The first little stocking is that found in the "LEAPING JOY" of John the Baptist
a. Even though John is a six month old fetus inside the womb of Elizabeth he is eager to proclaim the Good News of the Coming Messiah. He is ready to tell the world, "BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD." (John 1:29a)
When John felt the presence of Jesus, Luke shares with us that he leaped for joy. As a physician, Luke would have been familiar with the movements of a baby inside the womb of its mother. However, Luke wants us to understand that this was no normal fetal movement. John was leaping for joy through the power of the Holy Spirit. John was responding because he sensed that he was in the presence of the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
This morning, we need to open John's stocking of joy. We need to learn from this little tiny baby in the womb. Even at this tender age, John was both sensitive and responsive to the presence of Jesus through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. We need to emulate this little one as we enter into the House of the LORD each opportunity we are given. We need to enter into His house with thanksgiving and with joy. We need rejoice with all our bodies, minds and souls this morning.
b. Quickly notice that John's joy could not be contained or restrained. He was simply doing what came naturally. Jesus was near and he was compelled to worship, rejoice and celebrate. Just because he was confined to the limitations of a womb did not mean that he could not worship. John was not going to allow anything or anyone take away his opportunity to praise and worship. He simply had to respond in the best way he could at the time.