Fourth Sunday in Advent
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
December 22, 1996
(The young pastor and his wife already had a five month old son. Feeling as though she was coming down with the flu, Melinda called the doctor for an appointment. That evening she broke the news to her husband that her symptoms had nothing to do with the flu...she was
pregnant!...Shock waves swept over the....Went to a five Kleenex movie...Darkened theater, tears flowing down cheeks. In a few days, the they adjusted to the news. Eight and a half months later their second son was born. A blessing to their lives and they were reassured that God had blessed them yet again.)
WE ARE FAVORED BY GOD'S CHOICE, NOT OURS.
We normally react in one of three ways when confronted with unexpected news.
We caste undue blame on ourselves for the crisis.
We presume that there must have been something we should have done differently and had we done so, we would have prevented the crisis from occurring.
We sometimes think that the crisis has occurred because we have been guilty of some sin or other.
We caste undue blame on others for the crisis.
"Certainly, this is caused by my family, my boss, my friend or my enemy."
But most certainly, it can't be MY fault!
We claim the credit for the unexpected, but pleasant surprise.
"This is happening because I live right."
My hard work is finally paying off and I'm getting the recognition I deserve.
God chose Mary to give birth to His Son Jesus, Mary had not applied for the job!
The angel Gabriel made the divine, but shocking announcement.
Angels are used throughout the Old and New Testament to make the announcement of the coming Messiah.
We see Gabriel twice more in the Scriptures explaining a vision of the end times to Daniel in chapters 8 and 9 together with the Anointed One who will atone for the sins of the people.
It is Gabriel who announces to Zechariah that his wife will give birth to a Son -- John the Baptist.
Here is Mary, a 13 -14 year old child who is understandably deeply troubled by this news.
What looked like big trouble to her was the greatest of all blessings in the history of the world.
She was to bear the Son of God into the world to redeem Israel!
How often does God use a seeming crisis to bring His favor on us?
When our lives slam up against a seemingly immovable obstacle, it is then that God gives us the ability to trust in His provision and grace.
Is it not at times of crisis that we see God most clearly?
Is it not at times of stress that God does His very best work?
Imagine what Mary was facing:
Pregnant, but engaged to Joseph...What would he say? How would he react?
In a society that put such girls to death, what was her future?
If a death sentence was not carried out, would she be an outcast from society for the rest of her life?
What moment of crisis exists in your life?
Recovering from a divorce?
Trying to reconcile with a child or parent?
Teetering on the brink of financial disaster?
Some has told you, "It's cancer?"
Struggling with your own sins and wondering if God could still love you?
IT'S TIME TO LISTEN TO THE WORDS OF GABRIEL AND APPLY THEM TO OURSELVES.
Gabriel said: "Do not be afraid.
God understands that we live in a fear filled world that is unpredictable.
His word of comfort, given through Gabriel, is to remember who knows our fears deeply.
His invitation is to lay our uncertainty in His hands and trust Him.
God knows what tomorrow holds for us.
From our perspective, there may seem no way out.
Our Lord has already been to our tomorrow and knows better.
Gabriel said: "...you have found favor with God."
Not only is God aware of our circumstances, He is on our side!
Our God is not neutral or uninvolved, He became one of us...a partner in our world, in our pain and in our fears.
He has taken action to relieve our fears with His good favor.
What more can God do to demonstrate His willingness to be for us?
He has become our brother, born as we are born...fully human.
He has suffered for our sin and made total payment for them all.
He has risen from the dead to give us victory over the grave.
Our favor in God's sight did not come easily:
It came through the sweat of human experience.
It came through the betrayal of a friend and through injustice perpetrated on innocence.
It came through the agony of death beyond our imagining.
It came through the very gates of hell and its dark suffering.
LISTEN TO THE WORDS OF MARY: "I am the Lord's servant...May it be to me as you have said."
Without understanding, Mary offers herself.
As she has received favor, she places herself at the Lord's disposal.
Here there is no cry, "My body, Myself"...nothing is withheld.
Without being in control, she is ready to face an uncertain future.
In submission to the Lord's control, she finds peace.
Not that trouble will be alleviated, but that God will deal with whatever comes.
What is your situation today?
Is your life at a crisis point? A crossroads? In crisis?
God in Christ has come to be with you to grant you peace and to give you his favor!
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