Summary: I wonder, how does Mary’s story speak to you this Advent season? In a few weeks from now, Christmas Sunday would seem rather odd if we did not hear from Mary.
This is not an original sermon, points borrowed from Advent 3/C, December 17, 2006 Lynne M. Dolan (I believe the message was entitled “Nothing Impossible with God”). I have restructured the message, however; want to ensure I give proper credit.
TITLE: MARY’S SIDE OF THE STORY
Today marks the first Sunday of Advent. I always look forward to preach the Advent season as well as HOLY WEEK in the Spring. Advent represents the waiting period leading up to the GREATEST ANNOUNCEMENT THE WORLD HAS EVER HEARD. I enjoy the Advent season as there is so much we continue to learn leading up to the Birth of our Lord and Savior.
• Advent comes from the LATIN word “ADVENTUS” which means “COMING” or “ARRIVAL”
• In Western churches, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, or the Sunday closest to November 30th
• The Advent Season lasts through Christmas Eve
• Advent is a season of Spiritual Preparation for the Birth of Jesus Christ
• Advent is not only a way of remembering Christ’s first coming as a human baby, but also for his continued presence with us today through the Holy Spirit
It is a peculiar thing, this coming of God. It takes us all by surprise even when we know it is coming. After all, we know the narrative. We are not surprised and perplexed like Mary was when she heard the news. We know the whole narrative, cover to cover, start to finish. Yet, somehow each time we hear it, we are touched in a different way.
• It is like your favorite song, the one that makes you cry every time you hear it
• You know the words, you know it is coming, and then somehow, you are surprised when on cue those tears start flowing
Did you know there are ACTUALLY TWO VERSIONS OF THE CHRISTMAS NARRATIVE in the New Testament? Although scholars debate the differences and try to reconcile the two accounts, I think there is a fairly simple explanation.
• Matthew tells Joseph’s story
• Luke tells Mary’s story
• If you doubt that, just go back and read the two versions in comparative fashion
• Matthew tells the story like a man would tell it
• Luke emphasizes the things a woman would consider important
Let me try to explain my point. I recall when Michelle and I were stationed in Germany when our first child and the first grandchild on both sides of the family was born. I called my family back here in the States with excitement and said –
• Nicole had finally arrived and she is healthy and doing well
• As far as I was concerned the statement was informative and complete and all points covered from a man’s perspective – she arrived, healthy, doing well, ok bye
• However, when Michelle called home to tell family Nicole had arrived she stated
o How long she had been in labor
o What time Nicole had been delivered
o How many pounds and ounces she was birthed
o How many inches in length she was birthed
o Head full of hair
o Expected date she would leave the hospital to go home
o That was from a Woman’s perspective much more detailed
Luke provides and offers us this higher level of detail. What is it we know about Mary from Luke’s Gospel? Here is a brief list –
• First, her father’s name was Eli
• Second, she had a sister named Salome
• Third, she had a relative named Elizabeth
• Fourth, she is young
• Fifth, she is poor
• Sixth, she is a devout believer in God
• Seventh, she is very much in love
• That last one is a key to the narrative as recorded by Luke
• Mary is a teenager in love
• She may have been as young as 12 or 13
• She might have been as old as 18-19
• If we said 16, we would not be far off the mark
Mary is a young girl in love, waiting with happy anticipation for the day of her wedding. Like teenagers everywhere, she can hardly think of anything else. If we suppose the wedding feast is still four or five months away, we can imagine all her thoughts center on the same things prospective brides think about today– THE GUEST LIST - THE DECORATIONS - THE FOOD - THE MUSIC - WHAT SHE WILL WEAR AND WHERE THEY WILL HOUSE THE PEOPLE COMING IN FROM OUT-OF-TOWN.
• Mary had never been happier
• This was the most exciting time of her life
• It is right at this point that God breaks in
• He is about to ask an unknown teenage girl to take part in something that is so shocking as to be totally unbelievable