Summary: A sermon for the 4th Sunday in Advent A sermon about Mary’s faithfulness
4th Sunday in Advent
"The Faithful Hand Maiden?"
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, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind 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 for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
34 And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"
35 And the angel said to 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 kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing will be impossible."
38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. RSV
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Babe in the manger. Amen
The beginning of our gospel lesson this morning has a word in it that I would like to draw your attention to. The angel when he addressed Mary used this word twice, Listen he says, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you." And again the angel said, " Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." Did you notice the word that was used twice in these verses.
Yes, it is favored, or favored one. Mary had found favor with God. Chosen to give birth to God’s only begotten Son is no small thing. When we think about Mary and the baby we think about the animals arranged neatly in the stable, we picture warm glowing lights, we see a halo over the head of Mary and the Babe. When we think about Mary and her favored status, we think everything was easy, everything was neat, everything was good.
And then notice another word in verse 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
Mary was troubled at the saying. She did not go out and seek the favored status with God, God came to her through an angel. Mary was surprised by the grace of God which found her.
Mary then said in verse 38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
Mary then consented to act as God’s way of bringing grace to the whole world.
Mary was graced by God. But was it an easy life, or a difficult one as one is graced by God.
"Let’s take a good hard look at the life of Mary who was called a favored one. Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Now that would be a tough one to explain to anyone. Can you imagine the gossip that the gals of Nazareth might have passed around when they went to the will to draw water. Being engaged to Joseph certainly would help the matter a bit, but we all know how humantongues wag.
Besides having to endure all the gossip, imagine how awful it would have been to ride a burrow all those miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was a tough, wearisome journey. Bouncing around on the back of a burro couldn’t possibility be a delight to a pregnant woman. And then when she got there, there was no hospital, no doctor, no comfortable surrounding waiting for her, she couldn’t even find a place in the inn so she had to go off into a stable with the presence of cattle odor and beds of rough hay to lay on. There in the humblest of surrounding the king was born. You call that favored, but wait there is more.
What happened after Bethlehem? Joseph and Mary with the new born king were out on the road as refugees in order to escape Herod’s massacre of the children. Way down to Egypt land they went, by foot mind you. Then it was back to Nazareth, back home. But back home to what? Not living high on the hog, obscurity and poverty were perhaps the trademarks of Joseph’s family.