A Mary Life

Luke 1.26-38

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,??27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin???s name was Mary.??28And he came to her and said, ???Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.???29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.??30The angel said to her, ???Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.??31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.??32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.??33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.?????34Mary said to the angel, ???How can this be, since I am a virgin??????35The angel said to 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 holy; he will be called Son of God.??36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.??37For nothing will be impossible with God.?????38Then Mary said, ???Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.??? Then the angel departed from her.

OPENING
Mary is the star this morning. ??I want for us today to see her as a wonderful example of faith; to recognize her calling to do God's work, and to see that when God called upon her she did not waiver, but was ready and obedient. ??My prayer is that each of us will seek to have a Mary Life.

To begin with, I want us to see that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not anyone of any importance in her day. ??She came from a family who had no real reputation or special place in society. ??Mary was engaged to Joseph, which means she was around 13 years old, the typical age of someone being given away. ??A Jewish engagement during this time period meant that Mary was already married to Joseph but would live with her parents for 1 year before they were able to consummate the marriage (a much different cultural practice than we have today). ??Mary's wedding expenses had already been paid so that Joseph could take the next year and prepare a life for them at the end of that term. ??The town they lived in, Nazareth, is no special place and is even seen as a less desirable place because of its distance from Jerusalem, the holy place.

The point here is for us to see that Mary is normal. ??There is nothing special, notable, or outstanding about her. ??And then, we find her visited by God's messenger, chosen to be the mother of Jesus, the one who will pay the sin-debt of the world and set the people free from their bondage to sin. ??With this being said, I want to know if you caught Mary's response in v.38? ??"Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.??? ??

Would that have been your response? ??Would you be so ready and willingly to take on such a total life change? ??Look at it from a more selfish point of view: your life is very plain and simple. ??But now you are engaged, with your whole life in front of you, ready to start a new chapter and have new adventures in store with a loved one. ??Things are looking up and every thing is great. ??And now, God is asking something of you that is going to throw your entire life into turmoil. ??Nothing at all is about to go the way you planned it. ??Your husband may leave you because you are having a baby that isn't his; your family my disown you because you've broken your vow of marriage and brought shame on their name; your society may shun you because you are seen as a loose and untrustworthy woman. ??Does this sound like something you would be ready and willing to take upon your shoulders? ????

And yet, that's the point! ??Mary DOES take this upon her shoulders. ??"Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you," says the angel of the Lord to Mary. ??The original language is best translated "Rejoice, full of grace!" ??And Mary's response is exactly this. ??In the midst of an announcement that could ruin the life she has in front of her, Mary is ready to receive the message and and is obedient to carry it out. ??Mary can rejoice because she is full of grace indeed! ??But Mary can also rejoice and not fear because of another statement in the angel's greeting. ??He says "The Lord is with you." ??This statement is the statement that was given to great biblical heroes like Moses, Gideon, and Jeremiah. ??Mary, in a sense, is being equated with some of the biggest names in the faith; people whom God did great things through. ??But the real comfort comes in knowing that God is going to be by her side throughout this seemingly impossible endeavor. ??Mary can rest in the understanding that God is with her.

There are many things you can take away from this today, but the real message is in seeing Mary as our example. ??We have violent storms and dry deserts thrust upon us all the time. ??We long for God to quiet our rocky seas and for him to provide water in the scorching-times of our lives. ??But rejoice ??? people who have been given grace ??? God has called you, too! ??It is not Mary alone who has been called to carry, birth, and care for the salvation of the world! ??Mary is only the beginning, because what God desires for each of us is for Jesus to be conceived in each of our hearts, cared for and nurtured so that each of us can give birth to salvation for others through ministries of love and mercy! ??Our mission in life once Jesus is planted within the heart is to give the world the saving experience of a life with Christ!

This is the ministry that we have been called to perform, to make disciples through baptism and to teach what Christ has commanded. ??And what has Christ commanded, but for us to follow after an example like Mary's; for us to understand that the Lord is with us, as he was with Adam and Eve in the garden; as he was with Abraham and Sarah, with Isaac, with Jacob; with Moses and Israel in and out of Egypt, through the wilderness times; with David in the building of a kingdom-people; with the prophets in their calling of God's children back to his side; and now with Mary as she gives birth to one who will ultimately give birth to her in regards to eternal life.

Mary doesn't count the cost of such a responsibility. ??She has abandoned herself to God and God alone, and has chosen to undertake whatever may come. ??This is how the people of God are suppose to respond???to make God the source of our strength; for his purposes to be our direction and our path; for his forgiveness to overwhelm our shame.??

"A Mary Life" understands that we are the vehicle by which God desires to do his saving work in the world. ??God could choose to help and heal the world any way he pleases. ??But accept this reality today: God has chosen to interact in a saving way in this world through you. ??Is this a great and fearful responsibility? ??Yes! ??But God has equipped each of us who would be called sons & daughters of God with the presence of His Spirit. ??God will work in and through us, just as the Spirit worked in Mary to bring about Jesus.

CLOSING
Mary defines for us what it means to say 'yes' to God. ??Her obedience and readiness at the angel's announcement is a sign of amazing faith, of unbelievable belief. ??God has called upon her, and her answer…is 'yes'.

I hope that
each of us can lead 'A Mary Life', opening up our lives to the work God desires to do in and through us. ??We are ALL called to do the holy work of God. ??In Mary's case, she was called to give birth to the world's salvation???Jesus. ??Although Mary's calling is above and beyond anything we may be called to do, the understanding is the same: we are called to receive and give salvation that has come from God, through Mary.
_______

Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor,??New Liberty United Methodist Church

www.newlibertyumc.org

Devotional Blog – http://devoblog.posterous.com

Sent from Whit's iPad??

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