Sunday, 18 December 2011

How well do we carry the Christ into the world?

Advent 4 year B Sermon 11
Title slide
Mary gives her consent to carry the Messiah
within her very body… to bear him into the world
to name him …to take on the cost of loving him …
whatever joy and suffering … are to come

As we travel through the season of Advent… mindful of the breaking in of God’s future
we’ve asked ourselves how well… we wait and prepare and make room…
for Jesus in our lives.

Today on this fourth Sunday of Advent… with Mary the mother of Jesus… we ask how well
do we carry the Christ into the world.

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According to our story teller Luke…did you notice…
Mary doesn’t bargain with the Angel…
who brings God’s request…………nor is she angry

and though she’s truly mystified…as to the bio/spiritual complexities…Mary agrees… [pause]

Slide words
I am the Lord’s servant let it be to me as you have said…

Mary isn’t promised… nor does she request
a future without suffering and pain.  And consistent with what we know of God’s love
there’s no hint that Mary would be forced to comply
were she to turn down the mission.
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Mary accepts… without knowing exactly how the future
will unfold…

because she believes herself to be a servant of God
and as such…Mary is prepared to carry
the Messiah into the world…no matter what the cost

This young Hebrew woman is clearly familiar
with the promises of God…
spoken for generations through the prophets

Mary and Elizabeth slide
This is evident… as she greets her cousin Elizabeth
with a joyful rendition…of an ancient song of thanksgiving …first sung…
a thousand years before…by the prophet Hannah… at the birth of her son, Samuel
Hannah was the first to prophesy… the future Messiah would be a king
just as the angel had told Mary.

Mary sings

Word slide
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he’s looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Word slide
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He’s shown strength with his arm;
and scattered the proud. He’s brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

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And Mary adds her own ending to the song …
predicting the fulfilment of God’s covenant with Israel.

Word slide
God has helped his servant Israel…in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

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Mary…a servant of God… entrusted with a
sacred role in bringing about the coming of God’s future

In the story of Mary’s calling… to carry the Christ into the world… we discover the magnificent pattern…
of the call of God… revealed again and again
in the Gospels and in the stories of the early church
a pattern we must note carefully… if we are to fulfil
our mission to carry the Christ into the world.

First …Mary is not to be afraid to bear the prince of peace


because she’s found favour with God.

And what does God’s favour mean for Mary?
Well…God asks her  to carry the Christ into the world.
And how on earth will this be accomplished? …
By the power of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t fear ….for you’ve found favour with God
so you can bring the Messiah into the world…
with the help of the Holy Spirit. [pause]

Jesus slide
Thirty three years later
on the night before Mary would carry the true cost
of obedience…to her mission

As he breaks bread with his friends
Mary’s son tells those who found favour with him...
not to fear…when he’s gone…
And what does their favour with him mean
well… they’re to carry on his work when he’s gone
and how on earth will this be accomplished? …
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like Mary… the disciples in the Upper Room are
startled and confused…and as the angel does with Mary …Jesus wants to calm their fears

slide words
Don’t let your hearts be troubledI don’t speak on my own authority. It’s the Father, living in me who’s doing his work.  

When you believe in me…you’ve got a mission…
you’ll carry on the work I’ve been doing,
even greater things.
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And there… around that shared meal…
like his mother Mary…Jesus friends
simply can’t comprehend how this will be accomplished.

And just as the angel did… Jesus explains…
It will be accomplished… by the power of the Holy Spirit…

Slide words
the Spirit of truth. The world can’t accept this…
But you know… because the Holy Spirit lives with you
and will be in you…The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name….will teach you all things
and remind you of everything I’ve said to you.

Slide words
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I don’t give to you as the world gives.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled and don’t be afraid.

blank slide
As God’s servant…Mary surrenders her reputation...
even control of her life… to carry the Christ into the world
she is able to do this… not in her own strength…
but through the power of the Holy Spirit

As servants of the Christ…those who sat down to supper with him… the night he was betrayed…
would eventually carry the Christ into the world
not in their own strength…
but in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And like Mary they would gladly bear the cost

In a few moments we will once again gather around that table at the invitation of the Christ

earth slide
in the power of the Holy Spirit… we will be fed…
and strengthened to carry the Christ into the world…

My prayer… is that you will receive the good news of your favour with God…and that you without fear…
will consent to his life in you…
that you might be vessels of his gospel
of mercy and forgiveness, bearers of his justice and his peace into the world.

For the one we carry is the Messiah
and of his kingdom… there will be no end.