O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Waiting with Mary
Waiting with Mary
Based Luke 1:26-38
Preached on December 12, 2018
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Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from His Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Life was good. Normal. Quiet. She was engaged to a man who could provide for her. Her whole family was pleased and excited for her. His whole family was pleased and excited for her. They would be married. Start a family. Live happily ever after. Just like her mother before her, and her mother before her. She thanked the Lord everyday for that. Life was simple.
And then God sent His angel - to pay her a visit. “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you.” And just like that, everything changed. Why is an angel greeting me in my house? Isn’t it interesting? The Lord comes to pay you a personal visit, and instead of being filled with joy, you are concerned. Mary hadn’t asked for this. This was no answer to prayer. What could this be?
“Oh don’t be afraid Mary,” the angel said to her, “for you have found favour with God.” Oh good. Favour. Blessing. Benefit. God must want to promise me that He would support my future family with Joseph. How wonderful. Coulda told me through the priest on our wedding day, but ok, this is a special touch.
“Look,” the angel continued, “At this very moment, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son. You shall call Him Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High.”
This is the best part of the story. Because instead of wondering: what will Joseph think? What about my parents? The whole town? What about my normal life? Couldn’t the favour of God just be a fertile garden instead? Mary’s heart is filled with this Word – consumed by it – expanded by it - and her focus is totally held by it.
There is no doubt here. She believes she will conceive because the angel says she will. She only asks how. Will it be with Joseph? No. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Just as God breathed life into the earth to make Adam, He will breathe into you, and make this baby boy. Just as Adam was rightly called the son of God, so too this child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.
Did you hear that? I will be the mother of God. The One who created me, and all things, has chosen to be born of me. My womb shall hold the One who holds the universe. My body will give to the One who gives all things to all creation. He wants to unite with me, join Himself to my humanity. I was made to unite with the Son of God. My body is yours Lord. All that I am. All my plans. All my attention. All my energy. Yours. Put me to good use.
Mary said to the angel, “Look. I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.”
The Word filled her heart, even as it filled her womb. The Word was manifest in her soul, even as it was manifest in her body. The great unifier was there, and Mary was at peace.
Faith receives. It lets the marvelous, suprising promises in. Faith trusts. It depends on the power of the Word. Faith waits. It waits for the Word to act – to happen – to come to pass. It waits for the fullness of time – expecting, anticipating, knowing that fulfilment is coming – yet waiting with ready eyes. Receiving eyes.
Mary was not waiting for the angel, but after Gabriel’s visit, after God spoke His Word to her, she began to wait. Waiting for the ridicule. Mom and Dad wouldn’t look kindly on this. Waiting for the shame. Everyone would see. They would know. Waiting for the disbelief. No one would believe her.
And Mary’s response to all of this? Let it be to me according to your word. Why? Because of who it is that she is waiting for. Him. Jesus. The Christ. Her Lord.
You are Mary, dear one. And you need to see yourself in her. As truly as this is a story about the Lord coming to Mary, this is a story about the Lord coming to you. You are His chosen one. There you were living an ordinary life when He came to you and made you extraordinary. It didn’t turn your life into a paradise – at least not yet, you’re waiting for that – but like Mary, you have actually experienced ridicule, shame, and disbelief from others because of the Word that is in you.
But you can close your eyes, and picture the angel standing in front of you saying the same words. “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you.” There is no better message. There is no better visit. This Word is for you tonight. You are the one He is visiting. He has chosen you. He has these promises for you. The Word is for you. Jesus is for you. And you, are the One He wants to dwell in.
Better yet, you don’t need to close your eyes, because the messenger God has sent to you stands right in front of you in the pulpit and greets you the same way whenever he meets you. The Lord be with you. The Holy Spirit has come upon you, and the power of the Most High has overshadowed you. The Word is here – for you – to fill you in both body and soul.
Everything that happened in our text tonight, happened to you the day you were baptized. You found favour with God. The Holy Spirit came upon you. Your name was revealed, and you were called a child of God. This same Jesus took up permanent residence on the throne of your heart. He laid claim over your body, marking you with His sign, and now you carry Him around with you, like Mary. His Name never leaves you alone.
Just like with Mary, He fills your soul. He fills your body. Your soul trusts and magnifies Him. Your body is given in service to those around you. Your soul is ruled and protected by Him. Your body is driven out as a gift to others by Him. The Word manifests in your soul, even as it manifests in your body – for the great unifier is here with you – and He gives you peace.
Beloved, you were made to unite with the Son of God. This is your purpose. The meaning of your being. All that you are. Your plans. Your attentions. Your energies. They are for Him. Even as all His plans, His attentions, His energies are all for you. Your mouth can join with Mary’s saying: “Look. I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me, according to your word.”
Mary waited. She had a long hard road ahead of her. But she was not alone. For right there, closer to her than anyone else, was the One she was waiting for. He is Oh so close my dear brothers and sisters. You have never been alone, and no matter how hard the road ahead may be – He is definitely worth the wait. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr