Summary: An Advent/Christmas sermon about the humility of Mary and our need to be humble.
"The Gift of Humility"
Have you ever felt as if your life doesn't amount to much?
Have you ever looked at the lives of your neighbors or relatives and thought: "I feel so small compared to you"?
Or have you ever taken a ride through a really ritzy neighborhood and wondered, "What makes them so much better than me?"
"Why can't I afford a big house like that?"
My sister Lisa has always been a hard act to follow.
She knew from an early age that she wanted to be rich.
She worked hard in school.
She went to Cornell, and then graduated with a Master's Degree from their very prestigious School of Business...
...as did her husband.
Today they are multi-millionaires.
Lisa is an Executive Vice President at Proctor and Gamble...
...the company that makes Tide laundry detergent, Cascade dish detergent, Crest Toothpaste, Gillette Razors and tons of other top brands.
Her husband Jon, is the Chief Financial Officer of the Company.
He advises the President of the United States on Financial matters, Mark Zuckerburg, and regularly appears on CNBC.
They are rich, powerful and among two of the most successful business people in the world.
And they are my sister and brother-in-law.
They are also great people.
In any case, about a decade ago, I was having a conversation with my sister.
And my sister says to me: "Ken, I really respect you; you chose to serve."
Set aside, for a moment, what you already know about Jesus' mother and instead think about what kind of mother would have been ideal for the Messiah, God become a human being, the Savior of the world.
What kind of background would have helped her to get her Son ready to challenge the powerful forces of Rome?
Would it have helped if she were well educated?
Should she be a worldly woman with a lot of political connections?
Would it help if she were part of a royal family, if she had power and influence?
What sort of woman would be an ideal pick to give birth and bring up the Savior of the world?
If Jesus were to be born today, who would you choose?
Mary must have been quite young when she gave birth to Jesus.
Some estimate her to have been 13, 14 or 15 years old.
She was just a little girl in what would have REALLY BEEN a man's world.
She would have been looked upon as an impoverished nobody with nothing important to say.
She lived in a tiny village called Nazareth.
The town was so small it didn't even show up on first-century maps.
She is the last person anyone would have expected to be visited by an angel, and given a greeting as though she were a princess.
But this is how it happened.
This is who God chose to give birth to His Son.
God has always chosen the most humble people from the most humble places to do the greatest of things.
Think about it.
God chose Abraham and Sarah, in their old age, to bring forth the Chosen People.
God chose Moses, a man who stuttered and was tending sheep to be the lawgiver and deliverer of Israel.
God chose David, the shepherd boy, the youngest and least likely of Jesse's sons to be Israel's greatest king.
And God chose Mary, a dirt poor, uneducated, practically homeless, teenager to give birth to Jesus.
Legend has it that Mary wasn't the first person asked to give birth to the Messiah, but rather she was the first person to say "Yes."
She said, "Yes" to God Who wanted to dwell within her and through her.
It's been said that "No one was ever closer to God.
There was no one who ever had a greater connection to Jesus Christ."
And in many ways, I suppose that must be true.
Mary showed us that God is not just with us, but can be within us as well.
And in this sense, God's invitation to Mary is not just given to her.
But every one of us have been given an invitation to help give birth to the Kingdom of God.
All of us are called to be "bearers of the Good News," "bearers of the Word," if you will.
All of us are invited to humbly say, "Yes" to God's call on our life.
The "angel Gabriel" came to Mary and said, "Rejoice, favored one!
The Lord is with you...
...Don't be afraid...
...Nothing is impossible for God.'
Then Mary said, 'Let it be with me just as you have said.'"
What would you say?
What would you do?
Where were you when you first heard the call of God on your life?
What was your answer?