Sermons

Summary: A look at the call of Mary and her reaction to being called and how that can help us to follow God's plan in our lives.

Surprise! Surprise!

December 13, 2020

Luke 1:26-38

Start with a description of surprising my wife by coming home a day early bringing our son home from North Carolina . . . .

? The Russian poet Boris Pasternak said, “Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.”

? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a series of surprises, and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not.”

Or we can take Jane Austen’s view, claiming “surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced and the inconvenience is often considerable.

This year we are looking at some of the characters from the first Christmas story. When we think about surprises, Mary comes to the top of the list. She was doing nothing that seemed extraordinary, she was living her life as she believed she should. Then the surprise came, and along with her surprise was the miraculous mixed in with the ordinary.

Let’s look at her story as Luke tells us in Luke 1:26-38 - -

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David,

33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;

therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God.

36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.

37 FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.”

38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The annunciation of our Lord Jesus, to Mary is a declaration that is both beyond us, and yet within us. It’s at the same time greater than our life experiences and, yet, descriptive of the events that make up life. Into Mary’s common, everyday hopes and dreams, comes the incredible, the fantastic, and the surprisingly awesome call of God. And that call, changes Mary’s life . . . forever.

With the angel, Gabriel’s first words, the change begins, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you.” Those words ended normalcy for Mary. Have you ever pictured Mary as a care free teenager?

She’s lost in the dreams of a girl waiting to be married. She thinks about her upcoming marriage and the celebration the entire community would participate in. After all, she has Joseph, from the honored line of King David. She spends time writing in her journal Mrs. Joseph, son of Jacob. As she thinks about Joseph and smiles, knowing he’s a good and righteous man. There’s the thrill and anxiety, as she anticipates their wedding. Maybe she’s thought of a few baby names, and how she will announce to her family and friends she and Joseph will have a baby. But they’ll wait a few years, get settled, and put some money in the bank.

Then the angel of the Lord comes and declares, “The Lord is with you,” and her dreams collapse, and change. When the angel says, “Mary, God has chosen you to bear a child,” Mary’s response is pretty impressive, “How could this be? I am a virgin.” And the angel of the Lord declares, “The Spirit of God will cause it.”

We can envision Mary’s confusion and fear. She must have wondered how will this happen? What will Joseph think? He knows the law. Will he believe me? This is illegal, so will he have me stoned. What am I going to do?

What about her family and friends? What about that wonderful celebration, her wedding dream? How can it happen now? And the angel simply says, “The Lord is with you. Fear not.”

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