Advent 4

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Readings:

Sermon: 

Hello.  My name is Sarah Jayne Hewitt, and I am a Missioner in the Deanery of Evesham. 

I often wonder whether Mary was the first teenager Gabriel had visited that night – whether she was the first one to say Yes to God’s request and if she had said, no, that Gabriel would have moved on to the next name on his short list?  Or, had Gabriel already been to others that night and said: Greetings favoured one… to which the response was covers being pulled up over heads in fear and trying to ignore him, imagining it some terrifying dream, although I expect having an angel in your room might be hard to ignore.

The passage says that Mary was perplexed, simply perplexed, and wondered what kind of greeting this was – was she thinking, what’s all this about? 

I know Gabriel tried to put Mary’s mind at ease, but, what he told her was not exactly easy to hear.

Becoming pregnant without being already married to Joseph was an issue.  It was an issue for Mary.  It was an issue for Joseph. It was certainly an issue in the society in which they lived.

So when Mary says, yes, she does so without having much time to think about it all.

This is why I love this passage.

You may not ever have an angel encounter and God may never ask you for anything this life changing but I believe that saying yes to the little things of everyday encounters that being a follower of Jesus call us to, are important.

Do you say yes, like Mary or do you metaphorically, pull the covers over your head?  There’s a really good reason why you may want to reconsider.

Whilst we don’t know much about Mary, before this episode, we do know she was most likely a young girl without much life experience.  She wouldn’t have been educated and seemingly didn’t have much to offer.

I think this is an important point.  God clearly doesn’t care what skills or qualifications we already have, I think he just wants us to be willing.  He clearly equips Mary to be Jesus’ mother, I should imagine being the Mother of Jesus initially was just like being any mother of a small child. 

If you think about the Mary that is presented to us in this reading and compare her to the Mary we read about when the Caanan wedding party runs out of wine in John 2, for example, there is a big difference.  In Caanan Mary commands Jesus to act, she doesn’t listen to his excuse that this isn’t the time for him to conduct miracles – in fact she completely ignores him.  This is confident Mary, assertive Mary, motherly Mary.  Not the Mary we meet in today’s reading, there is a wisdom about her. 

Mary has been transformed by her yes.

In the Orthodox tradition, Mary is often called the Theotokos, the Mother of God. Orthodox theologian Gregory Palamas noted that Mary was chosen for this honour not because she had perfected herself, but because she was “full of grace”—fully welcoming of and prepared by God’s abundant love.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana, a writer, speaker and pastor, tells a story about a time when her Theology Professor asked his students to speak Mary’s response of “Here am I, the servant of the Lord” in a variety of different ways such as fearful; resigned or with a teenager’s sarcasm – think Catherine Tate as Lauren Cooper; and finally with a powerful confidence and acceptance.  MaryAnn recalls that she felt ‘hit by lightning’ as she spoke those words with excitement.  There was a direct connection between how she felt and the intonation of the words spoken, the emotion behind them.

Now I don’t know what intonation Mary used, but every time I read Mary’s response: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord” I am struck by Mary’s immediate willingness to be God’s servant and by the transformation that is then enabled in her.  Mary couldn’t possibly have known the full extent of what was being asked of her – she pondered and she trusted and she said…yes.

When you say yes to God’s call – whatever it is, something big or something small – you will be transformed by your yes because God will equip you to carry out his request. 

Say Yes.

Questions:

  • Have you ever not done something because you felt unqualified to do it?  Would that be different now and why?
  • Will you say yes to God today?


Page last updated: 11th December 2020 4:16 PM
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