This Sunday as we continue ourNativity Seen Advent sermon series, we will turn our focus to Mary. In our scripture reading, Luke 1:26-38, God’s messenger — the angel Gabriel — appeared to Mary. He brought a message of life and hope for the world. He said, “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (The name, Jesus, is the Greek form of the name, Joshua, with a clear and specific meaning: “God saves.”) Suddenly, Mary realized that she was a part of a holy purpose that went beyond anything she could have imagined. This was big news! Think of how frightened she must have been. Just imagine! She was receiving news that she would bear a great responsibility — in fact, the greatest responsibility. No wonder Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary.”
Mary then asks, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” The angel replies, “With God, nothing will be impossible.” As astounding as this conversation is, the real miracle of the conversation is Mary’s amazing response: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
There are so many other responses she could have had:
“I just can’t believe this!”
“Why don’t you just go away and leave me alone?”
“But, how will I explain this to everyone else?”
“I am too young for such a gigantic task: get someone else.”
But Mary didn’t say any of those things. She said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Mary’s surprising response is also very unusual in scripture. Remember the responses of others whom God called? Sarah laughed: “I’m too old.” Moses tried to get out of it because of his speech impediment: “I’m not a good speaker.” Gideon said, “Wait a minute, I’m just a farmer.” Jeremiah said, “I’m too young.” Jonah sulked: “I just don’t want to.” But not Mary! Mary’s response was, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
I think the most remarkable thing about young Mary is her radical openness to God. It is at the point of her response that this story of the annunciation speaks most powerfully, raising the questions: What about me? How do I respond to God? Do I receive Christ into the heart of my life so that my life is transformed into who Christ calls me to be?
What about you? How do you respond to God?
Mary is a good model for what it means to respond in faith, in trust to God — a true example of what it means to open our lives to God.
I look forward to worshipping with you on this second Sunday of Advent as we explore Nativity Seen in Mary — and in any life open to God.
Grace and Peace,