30 Aug Fourth Sunday in Advent, Dezember 20th, 2020
Holy Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
Then Mary said, „Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your Word.”
Imagine that…. She has just been told by the angel Gabriel that she is about to become pregnant and, after a few moments of shock and questioning HOW on earth this was going to happen as she was still a virgin, her reply is to say, “OK, here I am. Let it be so if that is what the Lord has decided.” This echoes words that we will hear in a few months coming from the mouth of the son she will bear, “Not my will Lord, but thine.”
We often talk about taking a “Leap of Faith” and trusting that God will lead us through whatever struggle or darkness we are going through at that time in our lives, both personally or as a community. Our Vestry has often taken a leap of faith when we were facing shortfalls in our budget. Our own Father Steve took a leap of faith submitting his resume into the pool as a candidate as our Priest in Charge and then again when he was called by us.
But Mary… Mary’s Leap of Faith is a whole order of magnitude different…. “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 holy; he will be called Son of God.” How is THAT for a proclamation? Your child will be called the Son of the Most High, the Son of God.” And Mary’s response? EPIC! “Let it be with me according to thy Word.”
What leaps of faith do we make in our own lives? At the moment, it almost feels like venturing to the local supermarket is a leap of faith, that we are taking our lives into our own hands. The news hammers home every day what a dangerous world, what dangerous times we find ourselves in. Between COVID, extremists on all sides, climate change wrecking havoc, food recalls in our supermarkets, the list goes on and on… The world is full of fear and trepidation….
In the season of Advent though, we are encouraged to take a step back from the edge of the cliff we find ourselves walking along, to regroup, to reflect, to revisit those times or events or relationships that may have been less than ideal, maybe even to commit or recommit, to repair, to heal.
Mary took a leap of faith and gave it all over to God, trusting that God would see her and her soon-to-be-born child through whatever was going to come during their lives. What would it look like for us to do the same? If we were able to take those things in our lives, those events, those people, that we struggle with or struggle against and give them up to God. “Let it be with me according to thy will…” Trusting in God’s eternal grace and goodness that God will be there for us, as our strength, our redeemer, our guiding light?
In four more days, we will be celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, God made human in the form of a tiny helpless baby born in a dark, cold, likely smelly barn on a Bethlehem night. This too is a leap of faith. God had so much love for humanity that God chose to become one of us for a time, to spread his message of grace and love to those who would receive it. God came into the world, not with the triumphant grandeur of a king or ruler but as a helpless human baby. The entire life of Christ was an exercise in “let it be with me according to thy word.” God made flesh, God made human, God made one of us.
Christ lived among humans, ate with us, prayed with us, suffered as we do. Christ became wholly human and yet remained wholly the Son of God
And still Christ was obedient to the word of God, to what God had set him on this earth to do. Jesus Christ, as the son of God, had the power to shape his life as he wished but chose to serve God according to God’s will for him… For that reason God brought Christ into this human world, to bring the grace and love of God to humanity and to be the bridge between that immeasurable grace, that unending love, and the fallibility and fragility of human kind.
How can we take that leap of faith, four days before Christmas Eve? Friends, we have time. Four days may not sound like a lot of time and, if we listen to the news, to the world around us, it isn’t. We NEED to get the last minute shopping done (we all know that, due to the pattern of this year, the food stores will all be closed for three and a half consecutive days), we need to get those cards in the mail, we NEED to do this, we NEED to do that, just one more thing we NEED to take care of and THEN we can finally take some time to pause and remember the whole reason that the season exists.
Let me relate something from my own personal experience… Those things we NEED to do? They don’t end on Christmas Eve… they are what my grandfather used to call a self-eating watermelon… They are always with us, always there and just when we think we have them all taken care of, more come to take their place. Every time that I think that I have managed to finish everything I “need” to do, I find a whole brand new and usually even longer list. My last list was everything I NEEDED to do before my team launched a satellite in late November. I even managed to get almost all of it done. Then, what happened? The launch was over, I looked around and the list was still there. Just now it was full of the next set of things I needed to do. Unfortunately, stopping, taking time to be still and to listen to what God had to say to me was never mindfully, purposefully, on that list. Instead it was almost an afterthought, as in “Yeah, in my spare time….”
That is the pace of the world we live in today. But, we have four days and we are now in a hard lockdown. We can continue to try running in that hamster wheel, struggling to get that list checked off and get things done so we can be “happy.” Or, we can decide, like Mary, to “let it be done with me according to thy word,” take that leap of faith, and turn our attention towards Bethlehem, towards the babe born in the stillness of that night, towards God’s Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ and, as Father Steve said last week, choose JOY. We say yes to so many things in our lives. And sometimes, we say yes to the very thing for which we have been destined from all eternity. When we say yes to God, when we can choose God’s joy, our “yes” echoes that of Mary, “let it be done with me according to thy word,” and like her, we then become God-bearers.
Holy Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 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 ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.