Summary: Part 3 in the series Eternal Christmas, this message looks at Mary as the archetype for how we are to receive and cherish the Christmas gift of God’s presence.
Receiving the Gift
Wildwind Community Church
December 19, 2010
Luke 1:26-38 (MSG)
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth
27 to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary.
28 Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.
29 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.
30 But the angel assured her, "Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you:
31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great, be called ’Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David;
33 He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom."
34 Mary said to the angel, "But how? I’ve never slept with a man."
35 The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.
36 "And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months’ pregnant!
37 Nothing, you see, is impossible with God."
38 And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. Then the angel left her.
Two weeks ago we looked at the world into which Jesus came to bring his message – a broken world, a world of both light and darkness. Last week we looked at the actual message that Jesus came to bring – that message was the news that the kingdom of God is “at hand” – that is, within reach of every person who will choose to live in it, saying “Thy kingdom come” – and of course the necessary counterpart to Thy Kingdom Come is what? My Kingdom Go.
Today we’re going to look at Mary. Because if Jesus is the symbol of the gift itself, and how God gives that gift (which we’ll talk about on Christmas Eve in a few days), Mary is the symbol for how we are to receive and treasure that gift.
The first thing I want us to see in the passage I just read is the first thing the angel says to Mary. “Good morning. You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out. God be with you.” Ladies, how would you feel if someone greeted you that way first thing in the morning? Would you love it if your husband said that to you in the morning? I can imagine the effect that would have on my wife, if I said to her, “Good morning, Christy. You are beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out. God be with you today.” Scripture says Mary was stunned, was thoroughly shaken, by this greeting. I know my wife’s mouth would drop open if I said something like that. It’s a beautiful, powerful, personal greeting, isn’t it? And it’s not just coming from some random person, or even a spouse or a parent – it’s coming from God.
Guys, just so you don’t feel left out, check out how the angel of God greets Gideon in the book of Judges:
Judges 6:12 (NIV)
12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
Sound better, fellas? Mighty warrior? Can you imagine your wife waking you up one morning and saying, “I know you fight for our family every day – that you work hard, that you make sacrifices – I even know you would take a bullet for us without even thinking about it if you had to – so as you go through your day today, remember this – the Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” I know, guys – your mouth would drop open. You wouldn’t even know what to say. My guess is that some of you would say, “Am I being punked?”
But Mary was not being punked. Gideon was not being punked. What was happening was that each one of them was hearing from God exactly what they most deeply longed to hear, and most deeply needed to hear.
How far we have drifted from this understanding of God. A lot of us can’t even hear God saying anything good to us at all. We think only bad stuff is from God. If Mary had thought like us, she’d have heard God say, “Good morning pathetic loser. Good morning teenage, naive, insignificant, clueless, immature one .” If Gideon had thought like many of us, he’d have heard God say, “The Lord is with you, and good thing because you are a failure – weak-minded, weak-willed, insecure, undisciplined, you’ll never amount to much.” Some of us have our vision of God so messed up that we think God is in words like that – we hear our sick ideas about ourselves as the voice of God. But God says, “Good morning, beautiful.” “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”