It’s a season of hope, Christmas is coming. As we celebrate our veterans today we are reminded of hope. The reason people go into our military is hope; we have a hope for a future. We believe we can make a difference. God gave Elizabeth hope. She was told she was going to have a son. Elizabeth is six months pregnant and an angel is speaking to Mary. Hope isn’t just from stories 2000 years ago. God entered into our world. Right now, in His presence we too can find hope. What is God doing? God spoke to Elizabeth and then to Mary. Hope is beginning to grow. People are asking questions.
God brings hope. Are we open to the possibility that God can bring hope into our lives?
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
Luke is the writer of this Gospel. He is writing to people like you and I, people who do not have a Jewish background. This is written from Mary’s perspective. Luke probably met with her. It’s the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and the background here is that Mary and Joseph are “betrothed.” This means that Joseph’s father and Mary’s father drew up a contract for marriage. How romantic! Mary and Joseph might not have even known each other. This is the betrothal process. Legally they’re married but they’re still living separate. They’re preparing for a wedding and a life together. An angel visits Mary. Just imagine all the things Joseph and Mary are excited about at this time in their lives. They’re dreaming about their two donkey garage they’ll have together. They have a sense of hope that certain things will happen in the future. God steps in and brings a new sense of hope, a new vision. As we look forward to Christmas we have things we think about. What might God be doing? Mary hears what God is doing.
Hope doesn’t always make sense. Hope isn’t always clear and doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t always match our hopes and dreams.
29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
This was not what Mary was anticipating. Gabriel says she has found favor with God. Favor is the same word for grace here. God has graced you. Mary is hearing this statement spoken over her. She’s hearing words she doesn’t even quite understand. She is troubled by it. This is probably Mary’s first-hand account. Gabriel does not say God is doing this because you’re such a wonderful person. There are no special attributes about Mary given here. Grace is often confusing to us. We wonder, “Why would God choose to use me?” We don’t deserve grace. We are used to earning good grades and getting a reward. You work and you earn a paycheck. This is God’s favor. Mary is a godly young woman. God chooses her by His grace. We spend our lives trying to earn things. What God wants to speak into our lives sometimes is grace. This passage emphasized God’s sovereignty and God’s choices. This is God’s choice. What God is about to do is amazing! God is about to transform the world! What we are reading is something we cannot explain. What Mary is about to hear is beyond our comprehension. It’s beyond us and greater than us. As we begin thinking about God stepping into our world, all we are striving for, can we pause and think about what God is doing? What does God want to do in our lives?
Hope is transforming.
35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
Normally the father would name the child but Mary will name this child. God says his name is Jesus. Jesus is the name above every other name, God who saves. We cannot fully explain you are going to bear God’s son and his name will be Jesus. Luke wants us to understand Jesus is the divine son of God. From birth he is the son of God. He doesn’t become the son of God, he IS the son of God. There’s nothing else that compares with these next few verses. Mary conceives a son and gives birth. Jesus is fully God and fully man. As we work through Luke 1 many parts are familiar to us; Jesus is the divine son of God. As man Jesus enters our world. Jesus understands what it’s like to live on our planet. He knows what it feels like to have homework, chores, frustrations, struggles, and brokenness. As fully God he enters into our lives and changes us in our circumstances. Jesus is able to do something about our brokenness. God with us, Emmanuel, hope is beginning to build. Whatever your struggling with God is coming into our world as the baby Jesus.
Hope restores possibilities.
37For nothing will be impossible with God.”
37For nothing will be impossible with God.”
One reason we struggle is that we lose hope. We think there’s no more possibilities for us. The story of Jesus reminds us with God there are real possibilities. God can do the impossible! We begin to think about this and question, “what if?” We call this daydreaming. Sometimes we don’t stop and think and reflect enough. What might God do? What could God do in my life? In our world? Mary is open to these possibilities. The whole world is open. There is new hope! We have dreams about what might be possible. How many of you got up and realized that it’s cold enough today for it to snow? This is God with us; all we thought was impossible is not possible.
Hope invites faith.
38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Faith follows our thoughts of possibilities. The first part is hope, being open to possibilities. Mary’s response is phenomenal! Can you imagine what’s on her mind? These are the same words here that are uttered by Hannah is 1 Samuel 1:18. Hannah will give birth to Samuel. She says, “God, I am your servant.” All is changed in that moment. She doesn’t know how people will respond. God has just said, “You have been graced.” She says she is God’s servant, do with me what you please.” “May it come to pass.” These are the greatest words we can say to God: “I am your servant, do with me whatever you want.” May we respond as Mary did, “God, we are Yours.”
Sermon notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.