Today I want us to think about Mary’s answer to the angel. What if an angel appeared before you and asked you to do something that would shake you to the core and change your life forever? Would you hesitate? Would you wonder if the whole thing was not real? You would have to endure the disdain and censure of everyone you knew. You could end up being an outcast or stoned to death.
I am not sure what my answer would be. What would you do?
Luke 1:34-38, 46-55
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Advent 2019: December 6
Jesus said: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
This sounds pretty scary. Something like some of the climate changes that we are seeing now. This could be a projection from the climatologists. For many centuries there have been prophecies about the end of things. Many have come and gone. We are still here.
The people of Jesus’ time expected him to return in their lifetime. That didn’t happen. Will it happen? We don’t know. We can only live in our belief that he will come in glory. Whether we will see it in our time no one knows. It doesn’t matter. The point is when He does come it will be a time for rejoicing. He will come again.
Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Saint Augustine
We can pray to God and know that he will hear. We can depend on God. But we can’t sit back and do nothing. We are God’s hands and feet. Jesus didn’t just sit and expect people to come to him. He traveled, he reached out to the homeless, the downtrodden, the sick. He couldn’t have done that sitting in his home. He had to go out. We have to do the same. Sitting in the pew in church is a good thing to do but that is not our major task. We have to go out of the door and follow the steps of Jesus as he walked among the people.
Today was All Saints Sunday….celebrated on Sunday although the day was actually November 1st. All Saints is a day of remembrance. Remembrance of all the saints who have gone before both those with a capital “S” as well as a small “s.”
In the Episcopal Liturgy we use the words from the Bible where Jesus asked the disciples to take the bread and the wine in “remembrance of me.” The earlier term for the is from much further back: Anamnesis
From Ancient Greek ἀνάμνησις (anámnēsis, “remembrance”), “call to mind”).
- The ability to recall past events; recollection.
- (medicine) The medical history of a patient.
- (rhetoric) The mention of the past; quotation of exemplary authors from memory to establish one’s authority.
I have always felt that those who have gone before us are still with us. They are present in memories, in places that we visit, and other ways. I have been in churches where a strong sense of those who were there in the past is present.
We take this moment to think about all those whose lives have shaped ours.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. Charles A. Beard
This quote reminds me of one from my journal of saved quotes.
Now that my house has burned down I can see the moon more clearly. From the movie Hiroshima
Both of these quotes remind us that light penetrates darkness. In the worst of times there is hope.
Every thing that is done in the world is done by hope. Martin Luther
Hope is a gift given to us by a loving God. When we are drowned in anxiety and fear hope pulls us up. God’s presence in our lives is the best hope of all. Never forget God’s love and live with hope.
Psalm 9: 1-2
1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When things are going badly we call on God for help. When we are afraid or ill or in danger we Immediately pray for help. When we don’t talk to God is when everything is going well. We just don’t think about it. We are too happy and satisfied.
Somehow I think we have it backwards. When things are going great we need to thank God. We need to jump up and down for joy and sing aloud songs of praise.
I can just imagine the expressions on the faces of those around us. This is not something we see often. Maybe if we did that we would bring more people to our God. At least they would know that we counted on God for good things. Then they would understand that we belong to a God who is alive and well and present in our lives. Someone else may want that.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
I can’t imagine what it must have been like. The fear and disbelief of the disciples. The grief of the mother of Jesus. The pain he felt. The effort of dragging the cross. It is all beyond my experience. I don’t know where I would have been in that scene. Would I have believed in him or been part of the angry mob? Where would you be?
I do know that things have been different ever since.