Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sermon from the 4th Sunday of Advent

December 24, 2017
Advent 4B

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Here we are the 4th week in Advent…which is also Christmas Eve, or Christmas Eve Eve….but you get the idea.   Our gospel lesson today is from Luke and the story we just heard would have technically taken place 9 months before the celebration of Christ’s birth.  This is the annunciation…when Mary learned from the Angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of the Son of God. 

The angel doesn’t come to Mary and say, how would you feel about being the mother to God’s son?  Would you be up for it?  Say Mary, here’s God’s amazing plan for saving the world, are you okay with playing a key role in it? 

Nope, the angel doesn’t really give her the option to answer….because God has called her.
God has chosen Mary.  There’s no opportunity to say no, because she’s the one. 

Mary does, however, ask, “How can this be?” 
She is human, of course and probably was wondering about the details…who wouldn’t? 

But this doesn’t deter her from saying yes. 
She is an amazing woman.  She hears God’s call in her life and she responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” 

In the midst of the season where we are preparing for God with us, Emmanuel, to be in our presence, in our hearts and in our world…sometimes this story seems like an amazing, one in a million occurrence of God calling one of God’s chosen to join in on the mission of saving the world.  And what makes this story amazing….is that Mary says yes.  She hears God’s call for her and she responds, positively. 

So, how does this story speak to us this day? 
God is breaking into our hearts every single day.  God is calling each and every one of us to be a part of this mission to love and save the world. 

We may not be called upon to physically give birth to the Son of God. 
But that does not belittle the fact that through our baptism, we have been called, by God, to live out lives of love and service to others, to bring Christ into the world. 

Mary was called to do a very tangible thing, to birth God’s love into the world, to proclaim that God’s promises are fulfilled.  Aren’t we asked to do the same? 

Meister Eckhart, a medieval mystic and theologian wrote, “We are all meant to be mothers of God.  What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself?  And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace and if I am not also full of grace?  What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to the Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and in my culture?  This, then is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.” 

God comes to each and every one of us, proclaiming good news of great joy to all people. 
We are each called and claimed and sent into this world to bear Christ to those around us. 

How will you bear Christ to the world this day? 
How are we to be mothers of God this day? 

A good friend of mine has been going through some struggles lately.  We’ll call her Jane. 
As a woman in her 40s, happily married and mother of 2 children and a member of just two churches her whole life, Jane found herself and family church shopping for Christmas Eve. 

This is what happened, after worship one Sunday, a woman approached her, in a large group and said that she was a terrible mother and her kids were horrible and everyone knew it and it needed to be said.    Jane was of course, upset and fired back at these women. 
Later, she spoke with the pastor who decided not to step in and address the conflict.  Hence, Jane does not feel that this is a place where she can bring her children or worship with a full heart. 

Last week, she and her husband received a gift subscription to Parents’ Magazine.  Weird, right?  How can this be? 

The reason I share this story is because my friend Jane is called to be the best mother she can be to her children and she is doing an amazing job. 

Just as Mary was called to be the best mother she would be to the Son of God. 

Mary responded with how can this be? 

My thought is that my friend Jane may ask herself this question from time to time….and my guess is that she is not the only mother, parent, teacher, mentor, pastor, youth worker to ask this question. 

Just as Mary wrestled with her call and responsibility, so do we.  When God calls us to task, calls upon us to be part of God’s mission in the world around us, we wrestle with this response and just may respond with, “How can this be?” 

As Meister Eckhart reminds us, we are all called to be mothers to God and as such, we are called to live into that role in our everyday lives. 

Katie Munnik reflects on the role of mothers in this way,

“Mothers teach their children how to live, and in turn are taught.  We become the mothers we are because of our kids’ personalities.  Christ’s own questions would shape Mary’s thinking heart.  Christ’s own love would give form to her loving.  Mary finds identity as mother in the identity of her son.  Questioning and offering obedient answers.
Constant to the end. 

As we continue to birth Christ into the world around us, we too, are changed in how we live and love.  Our questions and answers change as we grow in relationship with God and with one another. 

Our love of God and care of Christ in the world around us continues to change as we see and respond to Christ in our midst. 

We are called to be present as we bear Christ to the world. 
It means we will be both brave and vulnerable. 

Brave to share the light and love of Christ. 
And vulnerable to how the reflection of the light and love of Christ is received. 

As we prepare for the birth of the Christ child, I pray that we live with eyes open to see the presence of Christ in our lives today.  
Look for ways to care for others who bear Christ into the world.
Look for ways to nurture relationships with God and with one another. 

Seek ways to be bravely vulnerable while revealing the light and love of Christ in a world deeply in need of forgiveness, love and peace. 

May the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.   

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