From Now On

This is my written sermon for our Circuit resources for those unable to worship in the building or online for this Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Advent. Where Mary travels to be with Elizabeth.

The readings are: Micah 5: 2-5a, Hebrews 10: 5-10, Luke 1: 39-45 (46-55)

We join the journey towards the birth of Christ just after two miraculous announcements. Neither of these women in the normal course of events could possibly be pregnant, but the angels tell each that they are about to have babies.  Awesome, shocking, fearful, fantastic news. 

Mary’s next step in her journey is to go and see Elizabeth.  Perhaps she thought Elizabeth might be the one person who would understand.  After all God was working in her life as well.  God had given her a special child to carry too. 

But Mary never even got chance to tell her.  Before the words were out of Mary’s mouth Elizabeth knew.  The one within her, recognised the one within Mary.  His work of showing others the Christ had begun already, as he let his mother now that something special was happening in Mary, something important was happening in the world.

Both Elizabeth and Mary seem to accept their part in God’s work. God was working – and God was doing it there and then – with them and in them. The work that the passage from Hebrews tells us Christ was willing to be a part of, coming into the body God had prepared, to do God’s will, to show humans the way God wanted and needed them to live. Jesus was willing to offer his life and all he had to come and be, humanly in the world.

I wonder how you would have reacted if God had appeared to you in the same way God did to Mary?  How would I?  How shocked we would be!  Yet, each day we are asked to be a part of God’s work in the world, showing God’s way, living God’s life.  God  continues breaking in to our lives and the world around us.

What precious thing is God wanting to do in your life?  Maybe it might not seem as radical as having God’s child, but something just as important for you to carry on God’s behalf?  Something for you to do as God in this world?  It may seem inconvenient, God asking the impossible, or beyond our wildest dreams – but it is a privilege.

Elizabeth knew that it was God who was working in Mary, bringing life and hope to the world – and she shouted about it!  Can we see that in others and encourage and nurture them, support them when it seems hard or even a ridiculous ask of God? 

Mary, in the supportive presence of Elizabeth, gets caught up in what God is doing, not just in her, but for everyone.  A  song from the depths of Mary’s heart.  God’s plan for what will happen from now.  That God has seen her, lowly and humble as she is.  She is not a person of traditional high status, wealth, or prestige.  She is who she is, but she represents the vast majority of people just getting on with their life and faith.  Doing what she can, where she is.  But God knows her and wants to work in her.  And so Mary sings:

What is happening in Mary is what happens when people honour God in their life.  God takes them and uses them in all God is doing in the world.  Human beings make all kinds of plans, but God steps in and throws our plans up in the air.  God has something so much better in store.

God will turn the world back the right way up.  The mighty will discover humility and those who know the depths of life will be raised up.  The hungry will be fed with the excesses accumulated by those who have the resources.

The God of mercy will do this.  God keeps promises.  They begin in Mary, will be seen in the lived life of Jesus and will come to fruition in his descendants forever.

How does this song work for us?  The words we know as the Magnificat, my paraphrasing (with apologies for the inevitable Hugh Jackman earworm!)

From now on, things will never be the same.

From now on, my life is full of God.

From now on, God is using me as his servant.

From now on, people will see that God has blessed me.  That God has done so much for me.

From now on, may every person know that God has blessed them too.

From now on, God within me, God around me, God in you.

From now on, may those who think they are mighty discover humility, and those treated as lowly raised up.

From now on may the hungry be fed.

From now on, may love and mercy guide us all.

From now on Lord, let it be so. From now on God, fill me with you.  Use me as you need to.  Bless others through me, and may I be blessed by your life in them.  May I play my part, your part.  From now on Lord, in me and through me.

~ by pamjw on December 17, 2021.

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