Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blogging through Advent

We are approaching the 4th Sunday of Advent and our texts for this Sunday are Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 and Luke 1:26-38. In the Gospel reading, the angel Gabriel visits Mary and gives her some unexpected news, news that she is to become the mother of a Holy Child, who shall be called Jesus.
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In Feasting on the Word, Lewis R. Donelson points out that the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary of the coming miraculous birth of Jesus is similar to the announcements of other births in Scripture. Read and compare the following birth announcements to our reading for today:

The birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16:7-13)
The birth of Isaac (Genesis 17:1-21; 18:1-15)
The birth of Samson (Judges 13:3-20)
The birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:8-20)

How are these narratives similar? How are they different?

In the sermon for Sunday, together we will consider Jesus as the Son of Mary. In previous weeks of Advent we have looked at Jesus as the Son of Man and the Son of God. Of course, nowhere in Scripture is Jesus referred to specifically as the "Son of Mary," however, for our purposes we will ponder the human Jesus born of the human Mary. 

When you imagine Mary, what do you see? Is she "flesh and bone" or is she someone ethereal, angel-like, totally unreal? In preparation for Sunday, take time to read through Luke 1:26-38. Sit with the text quietly for a few moments and, perhaps, jot down your thoughts.  Then, prayerfully read through the text again, but this time put yourself in the story. You are Mary. Now, how does the news of Gabriel strike you? What feelings flood over you?

Then consider the following: Who is Mary to you?   Why?   Have you ever wondered why Mary is made so little of in the Protestant tradition but so much of in the Catholic? What might be the downside to either in the extreme?

Mary was chosen by God to do an incredible thing, a new thing, and Mary was faithful to the end. In light of Mary's  obedience and courage, I offer you the following meditation from Maker's Blessing: Prayers and Meditations from the Iona Community.

New Ways
God of our lives
you are always calling us
to follow you into the future,
inviting us to new ventures,
new challenges,
new ways to care,
new ways to touch the hearts of all.

When we are fearful of the unknown,
give us courage.
When we worry
that we are not up to the task,
remind us that you would not call us
if you did not believe in us.

When we get tired,
or feel disappointed
with the way things are going,
remind us
that you can bring change and hope
out of the most difficult situations.

As always, I look forward to seeing you during worship on Sunday.

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