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12.06.15 Surrendering to Win Luke 1:26-38 Sermon Summary

by on December 7, 2015

Interesting that gossip, activism, blaming others, and spiritual illumination all share a common source.

Summary Points

  • The role stress and confusion can play in our lives
  • Remembering the traditional way God did things
  • Recognizing the new thing God is doing
  • Being open to having our assumptions changed
  • Questions for discussion and reflection

When we’re under stress or confused, many of us find it easier to focus on other people. We deny and avoid our own situation and concentrate on others. This is one of the reasons we gossip about people. It helps to understand people’s activism. And it explains our impulse to blame.

But this focus on others during times of stress and confusion can also lead us to the light we need to see our way through.

I imagine Mary thinking about others after she received the Annunciation of her pregnancy. It’s hard to imagine a more stressful and confusing revelation. Naturally she would think about her older relative Elizabeth, whom the angel Gabriel mentioned was also with child.

“That’s just how God does things,” Mary would say. It started with Sarah and Abraham. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 when their promised child was born. Just thinking about it was laughable, which is why they named him Isaac, which means “he laughs.”

Then she would remember Hannah and Elkanah. Hannah was barren, but Elakanh’s other wife Peninnah had many children. She teased Hannah until, in her old age, Hannah asked God to intervene and she finally had a child whom she named Samuel, a reference to her asking God.

“So now God has blessed Elizabeth and Zechariah,” she would think. It made sense; both were from priestly families and had been praying for a child their whole lives. Now in their old age God calls them to be parents. Surely their child would be special, like Isaac, like Samuel.

And that would bring her back to her situation, her own “special child.” Gabriel had said, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Given the traditions of her people, she would have thought, “This is NOT how God does things.” Gabriel continued, “You will name him Jesus,” which means “Savior.” Surely this is a mistake. The savior should be Zechariah and Elizabeth’s child. Given the tradition, no one would be surprised for the savior to be born to them.

Finally Gabriel said, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” Then it might hit her: “David is my ancestor.” David wasn’t a priest. He was a king. David epitomized the dreams and hopes of peace and prosperity for all the Jews of Mary’s time. If a “savior” was to come, it does make sense that he would be of David’s lineage.

“But why me,” Mary would continue? She would remember that David started out as a nobody. He was the youngest of eight brothers. While they were out defending the country against the Philistines, David was back home tending sheep. Yet he was a young man, even a boy, when God chose him to be king. “And now,” Mary would think, “God has chosen me.”

God was doing the God thing, just not in the expected way. It wasn’t an old barren couple this time, but a young engaged one.

The idea of a virgin birth would not be unfamiliar to Mary. She was living under Roman rule, after all, and the Emperor of Rome had a virgin birth. Caesar Augustus was hailed as a savior and had brought the Pax Romana, the empire of peace. Yet for the Jews these were dark times.

Mary had to wonder: How would her son Jesus conquer Augustus? How could light come out of this darkness?

She would remember the words of Isaiah. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. The yoke of their burden, the rod of their oppressor is broken. For a child has been born for us.” Maybe Isaiah’s words about a new king way back then could apply to her situation also.

“Jesus will have to be a mighty warrior indeed to liberate the people from Rome,” she would assume. He’ll have to amass a giant army with superior weaponry. And he’ll have to utterly decimate the Roman forces.

“Impossible!” she would shake her head. Except the angel did say, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

After all, she would remember, God chose to start with her, with Mary—the unwed pregnant teen. And with all these thoughts of other people guiding her in her stress and confusion, Mary finally responds, “Here I am, me of all people, the servant of the Lord. Well, let it be with me according to the angel’s word.”

This week we light the Mary candle. Let us contemplate the ways of God during this time. Let us examine our own expectations of peace and salvation. And let us surrender to Jesus as Mary did. And as she did, let us follow his light in our own lives.

Questions for Discussion and Reflection

  • How often do you catch yourself gossiping, playing the activist, or blaming others out of your own stress or confusion? When you feel these impulses, could it be that the Spirit is leading you to deal with your own life?
  • Share how remembering others has shed light on your own situation. How does the way God has used others in the past encourage and guide you?

“A savior from the house of David” naturally conjures up images of David’s military success. What Jesus will do is remind people of David’s origins as a shepherd. How does this challenge your own expectations of peace, prosperity, and salvatio

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