For the past several weeks we have focused on our advent theme: “Watching and Waiting”. On Advent 1 we looked at the theme of “Watching and Waiting…in Desperation” as we heard the words of the prophet in Isaiah 64. For Advent 2, we considered the theme of “Watching and Waiting…in Preparation” as we looked at the message of John the Baptist. We especially considered the context of “wilderness” and looked at the biblical understanding of wilderneness – yes, a truly wild place, but a place where God meets his people and people meet God in a new way. For Advent 3, we looked at the theme of “Watching and Waiting – in Jubilation” and considered the advent theme of JOY; the text of the choir of angels announcing the birth of a savior to the shepherds at night. We were challenged to consider where such joy really comes from… and how to re-experience it this Christmas. Finally, today, we look at the theme of “Watching and Waiting… a Proclamation” and hope to gain some understanding through the proclamation that was made to Mary by the angel Gabriel. Is there any part of this proclamation that could be heard again by us today and applied to our own lives?
First, let’s take a look at the main points of Gabriel’s proclamation to Mary:
- Don’t be afraid, you have found favor with God! The Lord is with you!
- You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You will name him Jesus.
- He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.
- The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. You will become pregnant, not by human biology but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit.
- Even Elizabeth, your relative, who was said to be barren is in her 6th month of pregnancy.
- Nothing is impossible for God.
As a final response to all of this Mary makes a proclamation of her own to Gabriel:
- “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
There is so much that could be said about this text – so many possible sermons! But this morning I want to take just three of the statements, three of the “proclamations” and claim them as our own.
THE 1ST PROCLAMATION FROM GABRIEL
1. (V. 30) “Do not be afraid (put your name here) for you have found favor with God.”
None of us are Mary – and our situations are completely different from hers. But God’s word to us at Christmas is the same. “Don’t be afraid. I love you. I have found favor with you.” Put your own name in there and hear God’s word to you. This is not the only text where God expresses his deep love and favor toward his children. In Isaiah 43:4 God speaks to the people of Israel – and to us – with these words:
“You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:4
Mary’s acceptance of the angel’s proclamation of love, favor, and grace to her by God is amazing, considering the amount of personal difficulty and strain that such a proclamation would surely bring to her. Yet, she rejoiced. How do you feel about God’s great love and favor toward you today…. when you put your own name in that proclamation?
A 2ND PROCLAMATION FROM GABRIEL
2. (v. 37) “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
- No, none of us are expecting to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Maybe Gabriel’s words to Mary seem like a bit of a stretch to us.
- But, what are the areas in your life where you are struggling with faith.? Are you experiencing other kinds of difficulty and struggles that seem like there are no easy solutions? No way out?
- I challenge you to consider this word of Gabriel and how it might relate to your own life and situation.
THE PROCLAMATION FROM MARY
3. (v. 38) “Here I am. I am a servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.”
In her response to the angel – and to God – Mary displays a heart of submission. This may have been more difficult than hearing of God’s favor – or the fact that God is all-powerful. She needed at this point to place her entire life and future back in God’s hands and plans. Are we able to do the same?
Could these three proclamations change our lives today?
- Don’t be afraid. God loves you!
- Nothing is impossible for God.
- Here I am. Let it be to me according to your word. My life is yours!
Take these proclamations – these truths with you this week. Like Mary, ponder them in your hearts.
Dear Lord, thank you for the favor and love that you have shown me. Thank you that you are with me, even now, in this strange season of 2020. Thank you that no problem or anxiety I have is too great for you to deal with. Thank you that nothing is impossible for you! Today, I once again offer my life, my family, my plans, my entire future into your safekeeping. Amen.