Saturday, 19 December 2009

Advent 4

Here's another sermon I'm not going to use (actually from 3 years ago.. I'm going to be using Lythan's very apt reflection on Mary's story instead - it's good to have talented friends!

Mary – the voice of a prophet Luke 1: 39 – 45 & 46 -55

I deliberately split this passage up into two to give us some sense of time passing. Often we hear the story of the angel appearing to Mary & rush into this visit to Elizabeth & Mary’s little speech which is sometimes called the Magnificat – as if it all happens in the space of the 5 minutes it takes to read it all.

But let’s just pause and think.
Imagine you’re a young girl, you’re betrothed to Joseph, a nice reliable carpenter – and one day an angel appears and tells you that you are going to have a baby which will be God in a human form. Your first reaction is not ‘My soul tells out the greatness of the Lord’. Your first reaction is probably shock, disbelief, even horror. The angel tells you that there is another sign that God is at work – your cousin Elizabeth, who has had no children in her many years of marriage, is pregnant. Because, the angel says ‘God’s promises can never fail’.
Well, there is certainly something to think about here – can God really be acting in the land of Judah, in the lives of an old woman and a young girl?

So Mary rushes off to see Elizabeth – who is indeed 6 months pregnant. And when Elizabeth sees her she says the baby within her leaps for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice: ‘Happy is she who has faith that the Lord’s promise to her would be fulfilled’.
Then Mary knows – what the angel said about Elizabeth was true – she has been blessed with a child - and so Mary now comes to believe that she, too, will have a son – the Son of God.
And this is when Mary praises God.
And not just with any words – Mary’s words are very like those of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, when she has finally had a son in her old age. Mary sings a song which is not just her song, not just about her situation, it is a song about the greatness of God in all generations – it is a song of a prophet.

Mary says this is how God acts – he never abandons his people, generation after generation; he uses lowly and weak people and overturns great kings; he takes care of the needy, the hungry and the poor; his promises are always kept.

Mary, like all the other prophets, wants us to know that the love of God is real, the promises of God are true, and the presence of God is forever. Mary puts her hand to her belly and says ‘God is here and God will save us’. Jesus is born and shows how right she is – healing, teaching, living & dying… and being raised from death to show the reality and the power of God’s love.

So may we all praise God for his goodness, shown in Mary and in all our lives – and may we know and rejoice in the love of Christ. Amen.

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