Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mary Did You Know?

I want to start off this morning with a little exercise.  Don’t worry, you don’t even have to get up…  But I do want you to take a minute to reflect back on your life.  I want you to remember being 15.  Can you remember back that far?  What were you doing at 15?  Some of you here today may have children about that age.  This morning, I want you to try and remember what it was like to be fifteen.  Fifteen.  Its an awkward time.  Your body is somewhere between childhood and adulthood.  Hormones are doing all sorts of weird things to your  Body and to your voice.  And there is this great race to grow up.  Still, at Fifteen you are not old enough to drive a car, vote, stay out late, or live on your own.  At fifteen,  There are a lot of things that you are not allowed to do.  Now, close your eyes for a moment.  Remember yourself at fifteen years old.  You are in Junior High,  Interested in things fifteen year olds are interested in.  You are still a child living in your parents home.  Then, one night, there is a disturbance in another room of your house.  You get up to investigate and there,  In the middle of your living room stands this beautiful, Supernatural, and absolutely terrifying angelic presence that Speaks these words to you…  “Greetings Favored One, The Lord is With You.”  What would you do?  What would be going through your mind?  Would you also be wondering how fast you could get  out the back door and down the street?  Keep this thought in mind as we hear the reading of our Gospel text…

Read Luke 1:26-38 - The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Scholars tell us that Mary was between 13 and 16… To be more exact, most think she was about 15 when the angel  Gabriel gave her this message.  Is there any question why the angel told Mary not to be afraid?  She had plenty of reason’s to be absolutely terrified.  For one thing, how many of you here have ever stood in the presence of an angel from the Lord.?  If you have, then you will understand why they always In Scripture begin with “Be not afraid.”  God’s angels are nothing like what is portrayed by Hollywood.  They are a presence that commands extraordinary power and authority.  When you have been in the presence of an angel, There is no question what you have just witnessed.  This alone is enough to be a terrifying experience for a fifteen year old girl. Equally terrifying is the promise that she is about to become Pregnant out of wedlock.  You see, Mary was betrothed to Joseph.   A betrothal in that day and age was much more than a engagement.   It indicated a contract between families for a future marriage.  The bride and groom often didn’t have much say in the matter.  The betrothal might be sealed by the exchange of lavish gifts or a feast.  All the family was involved. It was all nice and legal.  Mary breaking this contract by becoming pregnant with another man’s child Was grounds for her to be stoned on the spot.  I want you to hear that…Joseph could have killed her for what this angel  was proposing to her.She had every reason to be terrified by this news. Who on earth was going to believe such ridiculous story? A virgin birth!  Impossible!

You know, even in this day and age there continues to be volatile disagreement in the Church over the literal account of the virgin birth of Christ. There are all sorts of scholarly reasons not to believe it.  Many believe this is an error that was created between The Hebrew prophesy and the Greek interpretation.  There are even seminary’s that do not teach the virgin birth As a reality.  Just exactly whose child was he then?  “Uhhh, I don’t know. Joseph I suppose.”  You see, things like miracles are threatening to the academic mind.  We, as people from the Western Culture believe that everything  Is capable of being understood.  Everything works within a certain understandable and Reproducible framework that provides a balance to the universe.  Miracles do not exist within that framework.  In fact, they are the very antithesis of reason, And a mind that holds reason as ultimate and unbending will never Experience the miracle of Christ’s birth.

Now understand me, I am not saying that reason is bad, I am just saying that even reason is not the ultimate value in the universe.  Men, you in particular need to hear this… God has chosen love to be the ultimate value in the universe.   And love, in many, if not most cases has nothing to do with reality or reason.  Love is about the most unreasonable expression of our humanity.  And this is how God chose to reveal himself.  Folks, the Virgin Birth has nothing to do with reason.  That’s why it is called a miracle.  Quite frankly, it comes down to a question of faith,  A question of faith first answered by a scared fifteen year old girl. Try having this one put on your shoulders.  2000 years later, scholars are still debating this…Try it as an uneducated 15 year old girl betrothed to another man, Knowing full well that the consequences of agreeing to this is Almost certain death.  Now there is a dose of reality.  There is no Santa Clause here.  No reindeer or eggnog at this Christmas.  This is life and death stuff.  This is anything but a happy holiday for Mary.

Now, I have been asking you to imagine yourself at fifteen.  Who were you?  What were you doing?  What did your life look like?  Can you remember?  Now imagine this angel standing before you asking you to bring the  Hope of the entire earth into the world.  You know that the consequences will certainly mean being ostracized from your family,  Perhaps even bring about your death… How would you answer?  Would you find yourself questioning if this was possible?  Would you find yourself asking why God would choose you to be The instrument of salvation for the world?  If God were to tell you that the eternity of others hung in the balance Of your willingness to carry Jesus Christ, the Son of God, And share him with others, how would you answer?


Folks, this is the question that God is asking you.  It was just asked of a fifteen year old Hebrew girl first,  And her task was much more difficult than any of us are likely to Experience.  But the question he asks remains the same. Think about it.  God has been asking people to share his Son for 2000 years now.  It started with Mary.  And yes, the consequences for her were far more extreme Than anything you or I could ever suffer.  But the question is still the same…Are you willing to share Jesus with the world?  That hope rests today on us - will we be like her?  will we give birth to Christ in our actions and thoughts, and deeds?  Will we obey the Lord,  and walk in his ways?  Will we share Christ with the world?  A survey was taken that asked the question,  "What is your greatest hindrance to sharing your faith?"  The largest group were the 51 percent whose biggest problem was the fear of how others would react! Why?  The answer is simple…Because no one likes to be rejected, ridiculed, or regarded as an oddball.  Sure there is some risk…But, the stakes we gamble in sharing our faith, our hope,  our salvation is nothing compared to what God asked of Mary.  In sharing Christ,  Mary risked being shunned, beaten, and a public stoning.  In sharing Christ,  We risk upsetting someone or being embarrassed.  So what?  And thank God that there was someone willing to take this risk for my sake.  Thank God for my parents who set and example for me…And for a few young men named Larry Bergstrom, Gary Spencer, and David Rawls who were fearless in sharing The Gospel with me when I needed it the most.  Thank God there were people who thought it was worth the risk Of being rejected for the sake of my salvation.I would be dead or in jail by now on the course I was on.

Folks, I was no choir girl.  But somebody cared enough to share the Gospel with me anyway.  And, it changed my life.  How about you?  Who was willing to take that risk for you?  Someone did, because you are here today.  There are people here who have been Christians their whole lives…And there are people who are here still trying to figure this whole thing out.  And there are folks here because your spouse drug you here this morning.  There are all kinds of folks in different places spiritually.  I get that.  But still, someone cared enough to invite you.  That is not an accident.  For the last 2000 years, that is how the Gospel has been shared. One person, to another, starting with a fifteen year old girl on the other  Side of the world who spoke the words…I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said."  People of God, God is relying on you to continue the invitation to his table.  It is up to you now to share with others the Good News.  You know, there are a 1001 reasons each and every one of us can come  Up with on how someone else is better qualified, and maybe that is “reasonable, But look who God chose to be the example…And uneducated, 15 year old, terrified little girl 2000 years ago.  Those are some pretty slim qualifications if you ask me.  But look what God accomplished through her just Because she was willing.  I want you to hear that.  She was willing.  You know, I think that most folks are afraid that they will do or say something Wrong and therefore don’t even try.  Listen to me…It’s not about you!  It is about the Spirit working through you. You just have to be willing.  God needs you.  And each and every one of us are without excuse.  Our call to share Christ is the same.  So let me ask you this morning…..Do you care enough about the people around you to respond?

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