Sunday sermon 20 December 2015 (Advent 4) – Mary

Sermon                                                                 Advent 4      20 December 2015

REFLECTIVE VIDEO (Mary’s song)

Who was Time magazine’s woman of the year? Angela Merkel of course. The daughter of a pastor who believes that Germany can not say to refugees “no room in the inn”.

How about National Geographic’s most influential person? Mary of Galilee. The Virgin Mary.

The headline goes like this:

MAGAZINE  |  DECEMBER 2015

How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman

Mary barely speaks in the New Testament, but her image and legacy are found and celebrated around the world.

I loved watching the current Pope on his recent tour to America. I was comfortable up to the point when he led a prayer involving the virgin Mary.

The line that features uses the words of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptiser.

Luk 1:42  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

You don’t pick it up as well in the NIV – listen to the KJV and NRSV:

(KJV)  And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

Add “Jesus” to the end of this and you’ve almost got a Hail May.

Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Okay you have to add verse 42, the greeting of the angel:

(KJV)  And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 

I’d like to know the virgin Mary a little more. Now that sounds scary I know. I’m not talking about having a visitation from her.

One of the reasons why National Geographic in its December article talks about her influence is because of those appearances. Have a look:

Have a look at this:

If I were to have anyone appear to me, I’d prefer it to be Jesus – which he is doing in middle eastern countries.

But truthfully – would you like Jesus walking into your living room? And talking to you about your life?

Mary was God’s chosen teenager. I wouldn’t mind hearing from her.

SO WHAT DO WE MAKE OF THIS?

  1. Mary’s voice and message speaks to women because a lot of our Christian stuff, whether we like it or not, is dominated by men.
  1. Mary’s faith and trust is inspirational.

No need to say more. Just go home and read her response in the magnificat.

  1. It can’t have been easy for her as a teenage mother. A young mother pregnant and potentially shamed. We have seen how unhelpful it is to have “truths” unmatched with compassion.

I wrote my version of a Christmas letter this year. I’ve always been a bit allergic to them as people overstate the virtues and successes of their children. I mean come on – they didn’t just sail through their studies without major family issues and conflicts.

Here’s what I wrote after my story:

The greatest challenge and blessing – developing a more disciplined and reflective prayer life. Part of this is resting in the Lord, especially when we have absolutely no control over things. Which you discover in the second half of life is basically all the time. Richard Rohr’s “Falling Upward, a spirituality for the two halves of life”, is proving a slow and grinding yet rewarding read. He quotes Desmond Tutu: “We are only the light bulbs, Richard, and our job is just to remain screwed in!” Rohr, Richard (2011-02-11). Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life . Wiley. Kindle Edition. 

May you have a blessed Christmas. For those who never write – bless you! For those who do – bless you especially! A thought for you to close my bit – then you can read Sheilagh’s epistle.

A comment by a Christmas shopper checking his list…

I almost forgot the most important thing of all – compassion. If I see some – no matter what the colour, size or shape – I’m going to stock up heavily regardless of the price. I have run out of it so many times and I always feel ashamed when it happens.

It’s just as well angels did speak back in the day when Mary fell pregnant. There might have been a kind of honour killing.

  1. It could not have been any easier for Mary at that first Easter crucifixion.

Sheilagh shared with me her thoughts last week when I spoke about Zachariah and Elizabeth and the conception of John. She was sitting at the back (probably wondering when I would finish) and thinking: “I hope that john’s mom and dad were dead when Herod Antipas had his head chopped off”.

Parenting never ends. You know the story of the 100-year-old lady who said the best year of her life was when she turned 90. In that year all her children were safely retired in rest homes.

  1. I would like to ask Mary lots of questions.

About Jesus as a child. Did he walk on water then in the bath? Probably not. 🙂

I guess his cousin may have had an interesting childhood too:

john baptist

If we knew more from Mary about being a mother – and more about Jesus as a child, maybe we would relax more about parenting. Jesus has been through it all.

Amen.

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About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on December 22, 2015, in Sunday Morning Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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