Monday, December 12, 2016

Dec 11, 2016 Sermon: "OK, let's do this!"

Stephen Baldwin
OT: Isaiah 35.1-10
NT: Luke 1.46b-55
Ok, Let’s Do This!

            Mary may be the least talked about, most important character in the Christmas story.  We take her role for granted, but she was really the lynchpin on which the whole plan rested.    
            Begin by putting yourself in her shoes.  You’re a young teenager, engaged to be married, still living with your parents, and even though you’re poor…you’re full of excitement and hope about the future. 
            Then an angel comes to see you.  He says, “Hello, beautiful!”  That made her nervous.  Who was this guy, and what did he want?  “Don’t be afraid.  God has a surprise for you:  You’re going to have a son named Jesus, who will be the Savior of the world.” 
            She could have laughed and walked away.  She could have said, “Uh, thanks…but no thanks.”  She could have said, “Are you sure I’m ready?  What will my parents say?”  She could have said, “But I have plans!  I can’t do that right now.  Come back in five years.”  She could have said, “A baby?  The son of God?  I think you have the wrong girl.  No, I know you have the wrong girl.” 
Of course, all those options are just fancy ways of saying, “No.”  And if an angel came to you the same way it came to Mary, would you have said no?  Yes.  I dare say most of us would find some excuse or some way to say, “No.”  That’s the remarkable thing about Mary. 
This poor, engaged, young woman full of excitement about the future is visited by an angel of God and asked to take on an impossible task.  Have you ever had to ask someone to do something you know they won’t be likely to do?  In order to convince them, you plan a big speech, right?  You think of every possible reason you can list about why they should do it.  You throw them all out hoping just one will stick.
I imagine the angel had a much longer speech prepared   where he could lay out his argument about why she should do this and how many people it would help and why she shouldn’t care about what others think and how God had a history of doing great things with unexpected people…but almost before he was finished asking, “Will you bear God’s…”, she said, “OK, let’s do this.”  
            Can’t you hear her!  The traditional words are, “Let it be with me according to your word.  But I hear her saying, “Ok, let’s do this!”  Talk about a Christmas miracle! 
             She had every reason to say no.  She had every opportunity to say no.  She wouldn’t have been alone in saying no.  But she said yes.  Mary said…YES!  
            Will you bear the son of God?  YES.
            Will you become pregnant even before you’re married?  YES.
            Will you endure shame from the community?  YES.
            Will you give birth in a stable among the animals?  YES.
            Will you raise him without bottles or binkies or cribs or rockers or diapers or toys?  YES.
            Will you protect him from my enemies?  YES.
            Will you teach him to be a good man?  YES.
            Will you stand by him to the bitter end?  YES. 
            Mary said yes to God.  And when she did, an overwhelming joy filled her heart, so much so that she began to sing, saying these words we read today from Luke 1.46b-55. 
Not only is she willing to serve God, but she is cheerfully willing to serve God!  So let me cut to the chase: It’s Advent once again, and God is still speaking, asking us to do things we have good reasons not to do.  What will you say?  Will you hem and haw and question and complain and wonder and worry?  Or will you say yes? 
Most of you probably remember the DARE program, which taught kids to stay off drugs.  Their slogan was, “Just say no!”  That’s a great slogan for a drug prevention program.  Not so great for a religion.  Modeled after Mary, our slogan ought to be, “Just say yes!”  If God asks you to do something, just say yes!  You can probably think of 30 reasons not to, but just say yes!  If someone is tugging on your heart strings this Christmas, just say yes!  Like Mary, God just might have something monumental in store for you if you are willing to say yes.  


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