Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Advent 4

"Mary's ‘Yes!' to God"

Luke 1:34-38

December 21, 2014

Some of you complain that you have trouble saying, "no." When you're asked to do something, you end up saying "yes" even if you really don't want to do whatever is being requested. At other times you are told to think about our answer before saying "yes." Saying "yes" is making a commitment. It's important to know and understand what it is that we're saying "yes" to.

Now, consider Mary. She had an unexpected visit from the angel Gabriel.  He brought her the most astounding news. The Lord God had chosen her to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. How would she respond?

Luke 1:34-38  And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered 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 called holy-- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word." And the angel departed from her.

Mary is truly surprised. She surprised on two counts. First, she's surprised by the visit from Gabriel. Angelic appearances were no more common then, than they are today. We're not told what Mary was doing at the time of the visit but we know she was alone. Here she is, minding her own business, perhaps thinking about what her future life might be like after she's married to Joseph and suddenly Gabriel comes to her with a message that will change not only the course of her life but of history itself.

His greeting to her is more than the usual, "hi, how's it going?" This greeting has more significance than the usual "greetings" or the awkward "hail Mary!" He speaks to her in a more elevated address that might be loosely translated: "Rejoice, Daughter of Zion, the Lord is with you!" No wonder Mary was surprised and mystified about what kind of greeting this was.

Secondly, she was surprised by the message. Think about it. Wouldn't this be a lot to take in? Good news. The long period of waiting is over! The Lord God has chosen you to be the mother of the Messiah. Good News? Yes! But now, Mary wonders how can this be? We tend to think that we're so very modern and worldly sophisticated that people 2000 years ago were basically clueless. Yet, Mary knew about the birds and the bees. She knew she had no husband. She couldn't quite figure out how this strange and wonderful message could become a reality.

Mary's first response is a question. Unlike Zachariah, she is not doubting what the angel is telling her. Hers is a question of logistics. She wonders how it is possible for her to have a baby without having a husband. Already we see that she is willing.

It seems that Mary said "yes" without any hesitation. She didn't say, "let me think about it for a couple of days and I'll get back to you." Talk about taking a leap of faith. The Lord asked and she answered without qualm. "Let it be to me according to Your word."  There are two things we can marvel at. The first is that Mary without reservation wielded to the will and plan of God. The second is to consider our reaction. Do you suppose you would have been as trusting and yielding as Mary?

You might ask, "Did Mary know what she was saying "yes" to?" How could she? Mary was simply stepping out in faith. Does anyone really know what parenthood is until they have children of their own? Mary was willing. The Lord knew the gentleness of her heart and sincerity of her faith. Whatever qualities Mary had were of such that the Lord chose her for the great honor of being the mother of His son.

Did she think this out thoroughly? How could she have possibly envisioned the visits of the shepherds and the Wise Men, the flight to Egypt, the horror of the cross? Perhaps, if she had known of these things, she may have said "no" to the Lord. This is why the future is not fully revealed to us. We would avoid the pain and sorrow that is part of life.

In Mary we have an example of a joyful, willing yielding to the Lord. She took the Lord at His word and said, "yes." Mary now had a secret that embodied a mystery. Once she said "yes," Mary began to bear the burden of the role she had accepted. 

When you receive good news, you can't wait to share it. Who could she tell? Could she tell her girlfriends, her mother, Joseph? Girlfriends couldn't keep such a secret. Her mother wouldn't believe a vision of angels. Joseph, well, what could she say? How can she be so wonderfully honored and then be effectively asked to say nothing? Fortunately, Mary is directed to her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth has also be the recipient of a miracle. In her old age, she is blessed with a gift of a child, who is John the Baptist.  One expectant mother is directed to another. 

Both of these mothers have been told their babies are boys. Both of them will give birth to a son. Mary have birth to a baby boy who was given the name Jesus. We don't want to become caught up in this "gender inclusive" silliness and say that God became human. This robs us of the fullness of what happened. Jesus became a truly human male. In Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells. He had to be a male to fulfill the Law perfectly for us. This is not a put down of women for the incarnation was made possible through the Mary's womb. 

The Gift of Life given to Mary was the Gift of the Father's Love begotten. This very Gift of Love is for us, now, the Gift of Life restored by the will of the Father. We experience this new life in our baptism. This new life is reinforced when we hear the promises of God's Word and share His gifts to us in the Lord's Supper.

Mary's life will now take a series of twists and turns she never dreamed of. She will leave her hometown in advanced pregnancy to give birth to her Son in unusual circumstances. She will live in Egypt before she returns to Nazareth. She will see Jesus grow into manhood. She will follow His career as a miracle-working rabbi. Her heart will be broken as she watches His suffering and death on the cross.

Yet, because she said "yes" to God, all generations have called her blessed. In the end, Mary was a God-chosen vessel to carry out His plan of redemption. In the same way, we are His chosen vessels to do what He has placed us here to do. Unlike Mary, our names will not be remembered 2000 years from now, but because she said "yes" to God, Mary will be remembered until the end of human history.

Mary said "yes" to God. Mary's secret is a secret no more. Like Mary we share the joy of the Incarnation. The Gift of Love given to Mary is given to us as well. This is the word we associate with the last Advent candle. St. Paul writes in First Corinthians (13), "now abide these three, faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love."  Amen.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014