Summary: First Sermon in an Advent Series. Focussing on Mary’s encouter with the Angel Gabriel when she first learned of her role in God’s plan for the incarnation.
Welcome to the beginning of the church year. For two
thousand years, this has been recognized as the beginning of the calendar... we begin the season of Advent with a season of waiting or anticipation of a great thing which is to come. Remember the Heinz Ketchup commercial with the Carly Simon Song in the Background... Anticipation... is making me wait. Kids always seem to be waiting as well for Christmas to arrive. I remember as a child, my mom would sit down with me and a pile of christmas stickers and make my own little advent calendar counting down the days to Christmas. But, like most children, I was waiting for
Christmas to arrive not so much to anticipate the arrival of the Savior, but more for the arrival of Santa Claus and the gifts he would bring.
For the Next four weeks we will journey together through the Advent season towards a manger in Bethlehem where God became flesh and began to dwell among us. It is my firmest hope and desire that each of us will be challenged and encouraged to continue to let our hearts be opened today and in the coming weeks to the gift of God in our hearts and minds so that we will each be able to keep Christmas forever in our hearts giving us all that we need to live the life of faith that we are called to live.
In our Scripture lesson for today Mary was preparing for the very first advent and the lesson is clear as to what exactly she did in response to the angel’s rather absurd remarks upon coming to her to tell her that she would give birth to God incarnate.
Think about it... Mary, a very young girl by our standards was busily making plans for her wedding to Joseph, a Nazarene Carpenter and now she is told that she will give birth to a child by being overcome by the Holy Spirit. This is not logical folks... And Mary’s mind is probably racing a mile a minute as the angel is talking to her. She is thinking about all of the complicating factors that this pregnancy would cause her. Not to mention the public scorn and ridicule that would come upon her as a result of her being the chosen one of God to carry out his plan to come into the world as a child to bring salvation to all people.
I am certain that there is a lot that was said in this exchange between Mary and the angel that is not recorded for us in this scripture passage. I am further certain that even though Mary ended this exchange with submitting to the will of God there were still plenty of doubts in her mind as to the intelligence of making such a decision.
There are a couple of items that I would like for us to
consider together for a few moments this morning as we try to understand what God is trying to say to us this morning from this passage.
Think for a moment about what Mary’s first thoughts and
feelings were as the angel Gabriel came to her on this day. Think first though about our modern situation. Today it is more common for a young woman Mary’s age to give in to the pressures of Boys and our culture and to end up getting pregnant. Think though for a moment how you would respond if you were speaking to a pregnant 16 year old and she told you that the child she was expecting was a result of a divine conception and the child that she was carrying was going to bring salvation to the entire world. Sound a bit illogical? Of course it does! Yet this is exactly what Mary was told would happen by the angel and I am sure she realized that the world around her would not believe her story. Her very own Husband-to-be the person that she cared the most about in the entire world would probably put her out of his life and out of his heart and the ridicule of the entire world as she knew it would be upon her for the next nine months and for the rest of her life.
The very people who had been waiting for the Messiah would not believe that this common girl of meager means would be the mother of the one that would set all of Israel free. And yet we know that it was true because the entire world has been turned upside down because of Mary’s eventual willingness to submit herself to the will of God.
Mary said at the end of our lesson for today, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." then the scripture says that the angel departed from her. And this is where we leave Mary for today. And the scripture doesn’t really expand on her situation a whole lot except to speak of her journey to visit her relative Elizabeth. But what actually happened in Mary’s life that made her so willing to endure the scorn and ridicule of the people that I sure that she had to deal with during the months of her pregnancy?