23rd December 2018: Waiting… Trust, Hope & Obedience like Mary

23rd December 2018: Waiting… Trust, Hope & Obedience like Mary

Waiting

So here we are on the 4th Sunday of Advent and it is only a few sleeps until Christmas… Whether this means being excited to celebrate Christmas or keen for a rest will vary but regardless, we are almost there, the waiting is almost over!

                   

For me as a hopeless eBay addict I have recently had plenty of time to reflect on the nature of waiting. You see, buying something online and probably buying things from a catalogue by post is very different than walking into a store and picking something up.

After paying, you often have to wait days or even weeks for your package to arrive. This introduces the issue of trust, Having to place our trust in these unknowns, the potentially dodgy vendor, Australia post, that can produce such a mix of excitement and anxiety when buying things this way.

I would like to suggest that it is this trust is what makes the waiting tolerable, combined with anticipation at what is about to come.

 

As we look at the Gospel passage for today we are reminded of the experience of Mary in the lead up to the birth of Jesus, the mix of good news, waiting during pregnancy and trusting in God the whole way. I would like to suggest that as we seek to live out our faith today there are challenges placed before us by her example of faith an obedience.

 

May Mary’s trust in God be our trust

Firstly, may Mary’s trust in God be our trust.

Trust is something that would have been critical for Mary… This thing that Mary was being asked to do was not something that would be easy for her or Joseph, was not something that would be understood by those around her and was something that would alter the course of her life.

Prior to her visit with Elizabeth is isn’t even clear that she knew something had happened, other than a strange vision and her making herself available, was it all in her head, had it just been her imagination?

Luke 1:39–42 GNB

39 Soon afterwards Mary got ready and hurried off to a town in the hill country of Judea.

40 She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit

42 and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

The affirmation of Elizabeth as something that would have been powerful for both of them. This is the affirmation that something had happened, God was working and doing something new and amazing. Impossible things were happening, and older woman and a virgin getting pregnant, and this was just the beginning.

Mary was being called to participate in God’s plan of redemption. She didn’t have all the answers or know what it would look like or even comprehend what this would cost, but she trusted God enough to play her part. Mary demonstrates the type of trust and obedience that we would consider to be almost naïve…

Luke 1:43–45 GNB

43 Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me?

44 For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness.

45 How happy you are to believe that the Lord’s message to you will come true!”

The challenge for us today is whether we have the faith to trusting God enough to step out of our comfort zone. To continue Jesus’ work and ministry even when we know it will be uncomfortable, unpopular and we aren’t even sure how it fits into the grand scheme of things.

May her hope in God’s promises be ours

Secondly, may Mary’s hope in God’s promise be our hope…

Micah 5:3–5 GNB

3 So the Lord will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son. Then those Israelites who are in exile will be reunited with their own people.

4 When he comes, he will rule his people with the strength that comes from the Lord and with the majesty of the Lord God himself. His people will live in safety because people all over the earth will acknowledge his greatness,

5 and he will bring peace.

Mary finds herself in Israel at a time when they haven’t heard from God for centuries, their homeland is occupied by the Roman Empire and God’s promises to Israel might almost feel like a distant memory, a foolish hope. As a people Israel have struggled to be what God called them to be as his people, let alone be the means by which all the world is blessed…

Mary speaks of a vison of the world and the actions of God in a way that is almost the opposite for the world that we know, one where the hungry are filled, the lowly lifted up and the all created is blessed through God’s promise to Abraham. 

The challenge for us today is whether we have the hope and imagination to long for the Kingdom of God, to resist cynicism that says things will never be any better and to trust in God as the one who continues to renew all of creation.

May Mary’s humble sharing in God’s plan of redemption be shared through us.

Thirdly, may Mary’s willing participation in God’s plan be ours…

The example of Mary reminds us that our faith, our following Jesus isn’t just theoretical but becomes real. In the birth of Jesus, we see God’s plan of redemption unfolding in practical ways, demanding something of Mary as she participates. This isn’t just theoretical or something that she has to say and agree too and it also isn’t something that is purely her doing.

God working through Mary reminds is that God breaks into our world, brings transformation, renewal and hope through his people, no matter how insignificant they might be. We are reminded that the story of God’s renewal isn’t one that just happens “out there” or with “someone else” but that it is continued through each and every one of us as we follow Jesus, show love and grace to those around and step out in trust and obedience to shine God’s light in the dark places in our world.

The challenge for us today is whether we have the humility to surrender our own priorities, power and abilities and join in God’s plan as Mary did. That we can have the perseverance to serve in a plan of redemption that we know ultimately depends on God, not on our own brilliance.

Conclusion

So as we continue to wait through advent, awaiting the birth of our Lord.

May Mary’s trust in God be our trust

May her hope in God’s promises be ours

May her humble sharing in God’s plan of redemption be shared through us.

Speaker: Rev. Stephen Rothery

I am married to Shannan and we love life in the Redlands.

 

I love tinkering with technology, have spent waaaay too much time in on-line gaming and am an early adopter of virtual reality. (Currently rocking a HTC Vive at home and GearVR for mobile) Before coming into ministry my background was in Electrical Engineering/IT which meant I spent a lot of time working with information systems and automation in factories and industry around Queensland. All of this means that I am basically a huge nerd 🙂

 

In terms of faith, I am passionate about journeying with people as they seek to follow Jesus and understand what this looks like in their family/work/community. None of us are perfect, but through God\’s grace we can make a difference as together we seek to bring hope in places of despair, love to those who feel lost or ashamed and comfort to those who are hurting.