Summary: Advent Sermon, 4th Sunday Year C

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Luke 1: 46-56

To Us and Through Us

Anthony Perry

For those of you who read books you may have experienced what I call the "Big Let Down". What do I mean by this? I mean the experience that comes when you read and enjoy a book so much that you get excited when you hear that it’s coming out at the movies. Unfortunately, when you see the movie you sometimes experience the "Big Let Down". The movie either leaves out scenes, or the actors don’t fit right in the role they are playing. Basically the imagery that is played out on the movie screen just doesn’t connect with the way you imagined it when you read the book.

I think it’s because for some of us our imagination is far better, farther reaching, more fulfilling and far more in tune with us than the reality of what is presented before us. This is why some adults play video games religiously. The imagined fantasy they live out in video games is far better than the reality they live in real life.

Have you ever experienced the opposite of this? Where the movie was far better than the book? In other words where the reality that was before you was far better than the one you could ever dream of in your wildest imagination.

Personally I like it when reality is blessed and made richer through the imagination.

This is something I hope to do with our scripture today. I want to present to you the reality presented to us in Luke chapter One and by using our imaginations capture the magnificence of the moment.

In Chapter One read that Marygoes to elizabeth to live for three months.

First of all let’s deal with our mental picture of the pregnant Elizabeth and the pregnant Mary that makes itself at home in our head.

When you think of Elizabeth what picture comes to your mind? Elizabeth, we know, is Mary’s relative. I usually picture her as a woman between thirty five and forty. In all probability when we think of Elizabeth we should think of a much older woman far beyond child bearing years? The angel Gabriel when talking to Mary says don’t begin to think that your being pregnant is impossible Mary, because just as miraculous is your relative Elizabeth, who in her old age, is pregnant with child and in her sixth month.

Can you imagine what Elizabeth must have thought and felt when she found out that her son, this miraculous impossibility, was a child that had a God given destiny? He was meant "to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Her words are recorded in verse 35, “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

In these times to be a woman who couldn’t have a child was a public disgrace. The barren woman was seen as cursed by God, but now the barren Elizabeth stands amazed as she recognizes that God has removed the cause of her shame, and that God had remembered her.

Did you ever wonder how Elizabeth knew that the child within Mary was her Lord? When the old woman Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, her miracle baby leaps in her womb, and she is filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God to the point that she has to shout out in a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will give birth to! She then turns to pondering the mercy and grace being shown to her and says, “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me.” Looking to Mary she explains her cry, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, my baby leaped for joy. You are blessed Mary because you have believed in what the Lord said he would accomplish in you!”

Now let’s take a look at the image of Mary that resides in our head. What do you picture when you think of Mary. Do you see a soft, petite, feminine young girl? This is probably a false image. Young women at this time would have carried the brunt of the grunt work as they helped care for the household. Their daily life could have been filled with the hauling of water, the care over younger siblings, the grinding of the wheat, the cooking and cleaning, and daily watering and feeding of animals if they had them. In fact for a pregnant Mary to have traveled to one of the Priestly cities where her relative Elizabeth probably lived meant she was indeed an individual of strength and stamina.

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