First Lesson: 2 Samuel 7: 1-11, 16
Responsive Reading: Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26
Second Lesson: Romans 16: 25-27
Gospel Lesson: Luke 1: 26-38
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
This morning, I want to tell you the story of an ordinary Mary. We all know a girl like Mary. Mary had just turned that awkward age of thirteen. Mary’s body was changing before her very eyes.
She was just coming into the years of your life that unless you’re extraordinarily pretty or cool are some of the most difficult years of life. Mary grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Mary had no distinguishing features. Her clothes weren’t fancy. Mary had to fight breakouts like any other kid. Mary dreaded looking into the mirror to see her own reflection. If Mary had walked down the hall of any middle school that you’ve ever been to, Mary would have blended in with the crowd. For everywhere that Mary looked she saw someone prettier, someone smarter, and someone more physically capable. Mary was at the age where her failures seem to magnify nearly every single day.
Mary didn’t have very high hopes for the future, in fact; Mary thought of the future as depressing. Her mother had been a hand-maiden, a servant. Mary figured that her life would be nothing special. Mary saw herself doing nothing different from what her mother did spending her days washing clothes.
Mary had one positive though in her life. Mary had recently met a guy named Joe. Mary and Joe’s parents had known each other. Joe was a few years older than Mary. Joe was at the age where every little bit of fuzz that sprung up on his face was a sign of pending manhood. Joe was the kid that would have loved shop classes. Joe wanted to be a carpenter like his father and his father before him.
Joe was a nice guy. Mary was at first taken back by Joe because he was the first guy that would have really showed an interest in her. Joe had made a promise to Mary. Joe told Mary that ‘he loved her’. Joe said that they were going to get married someday.
One night Mary’s life changed forever, Mary was in her room, getting ready for bed, performing rituals that she had done countless nights before. When with no prior warning appearing before Mary was an Angel of the Lord named “Gabriel”. Mary didn’t know quite what to make of this at first. Mary figured that maybe she had just eaten something bad, or this was her lack of sleep finally catching up with her.
Mary initially feared Gabriel no differently than we would fear any uninvited intruder into our bedroom.
Gabriel sought to put Mary’s fears to rest with his first words “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”-Luke 1:30
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”-Luke 1:31
Mary was by no means a religious scholar. She would attend synagogue with her family on a weekly basis. Mary like many kids her age never followed along with the service all that well. Yet when Mary heard the name “Jesus” she knew what this name meant.
You see Jesus is from the Hebrew word meaning “savior”. The Son she was going to bare was going to be the one to save all of God’s people.
Mary still couldn’t figure out the biology involved in all this. Mary was so young that she didn’t even know that she could give birth to a child.
She heard the word “pregnant” and knew that Joe and her hadn’t been together in “this way” so it made no sense for her to be pregnant. Yet Gabriel assured her that this would be no ordinary birth. Mary would give birth as a virgin.
“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.”- Luke 1: 35
Mary was at that age where she was completely unsure of herself around any adults, let alone an angel of the Lord. So Mary was timid in Gabriels presence like anyone in her situation would have been upon hearing this most shocking of the news.
Gabriel knew that Mary would need help processing what she had just heard. So before leaving Gabriel gave Mary a little bit of advice. Go visit a relative of yours named Elizabeth. Mary didn’t know Elizabeth all that well as she was an old woman, where as Mary was a young girl. Elizabeth could be a source of support for Mary though as went through her process. Elizabeth like Mary had also been visited recently by an angel. Elizabeth had been told that in her old age that she was going to give birth to a son named “John” who would later be known as “The Baptist”.
What happened after the angel Gabriel left the room? Mary stayed awake almost in a trance. Mary figured that she would break down crying uncontrollably as her world would never be the same again, only Mary didn’t do this. It was as if some higher force was going to guide Mary through this process and give her strength.
Mary’s range of thoughts was no different than any thirteen year old girl. Mary figured as soon as her parents heard this news of her pregnancy that they would scream at her till her ears bleed.
Mary wondered about her friends. Mary thought that she had friends. But Mary knew that people are fickle and will turn on you, once you downgrade their cool factor. Mary worried about her friends ignoring her and making fun of her behind her back.
Mary knew as people saw her ever expanding body that she would look like a “freak”. Mary knew that the next several months would result in Mary being an object of derision and scorn. Mary’s was the type of pregnancy that would have people telling her to get out of it, not to wreck her life by any means possible.
Mary worried about Joe. Would Joe dump her? Joe could make all sorts of assumptions that she was nothing but a no good, dirty cheat. Joe could have gone out and bragged to all his bros “about how was better off without Mary”. For the easy thing for Joe would be to dump her, and never respond to her again.
Mary wondered if anyone could ever possibly love her upon hearing this news.
Mary wondered most of all how much is this all going to hurt?
It was Gabriel’s final words to Mary that she could just not shake from her head, as she prepared to endure the next nine months of her life “For no word from God will ever fail?.”- Luke 1:37
What can we make of the story of this ordinary Mary on a Sunday such as this one?
Whereas Mary might not have been unique to the world around her, Mary was special. Mary hears that her son will be special. Mary’s son would be called “The Son of the Most High.” Mary’s son would be a King.
Mary’s story is a story of transformation, not so much a story about Mary’s spiritual transformation or personal transformation. Mary’s story is a story of God’s transformation. Mary’s story is a reminder how God enters into the world in the most plain and ordinary form.
Surely God could have chosen someone else, yet he didn’t. God could have chosen someone different to bring his son into the world. Perhaps God could have been born into the family of a Roman aristocrat, rather than a hick country girl. God does not work according to our terms; God works in defiance of our terms. In Mary, God saw something different; God saw one that he had chosen, one whom he had favored. Where as Mary might have thought no one would ever notice her, she had been noticed from on high. God was not going to see what other people saw, or even what Mary herself saw.
Every so often you might see a beautiful looking baby with a Mom who seemingly hasn’t gained a pound. We picture the type of Mom whose eyes seem unaffected by sleepless nights. We encounter a Mom who apparently has been blinded to all the weird bodily functions and distress of child-birth. Mary was not this mother. Mary was a scared, insecure thirteen-year-old girl who had just had the weight of the whole world placed upon her shoulders. Mary came to believe that with God nothing shall be impossible.
God promises to Mary on this day a Son. God extends to us on this day, the same type of promise. Today, we will receive a Son given unto the world in words of promise “For Christ’s sake your sins are forgiven”. Do not be afraid as we go home on this day, for you have found favor with God. Just as the Gospels begin with an earth-shaking miracle of birth, they would end with another earth-transforming miracle of resurrection. Amen
Pastor Stew Carlson
These are all Sunday sermon's written by Pastor Stew.