Today’s Gospel lesson recounts Gabriel’s visit to Mary, telling her that she will become the mother of God incarnate. This passage has been getting more than average airtime lately, thanks to all the women speaking up about their own experiences of assault, and conversation about the moral character of accused pedophiles. Did Mary consent to her body being used in this way, or was she assaulted by the Holy Spirit? Either way, what does this teach us about the nature of God?
If I’m reading the Greek correctly, the verbs used by Gabriel are in the future tense, not the imperative. He is telling Mary what will happen in the future. He is not commanding her to do these things. Presumably, Mary could have said, “No, that’s not going to happen.” She could have exercised her free will to refuse Gabriel’s prophesy. But she doesn’t. Instead, her answer is, “Let it be with me according to your word.”
What does Mary’s acceptance of God’s will mean for us? How can we see her as a model of faith? One of my favorite things to ponder at this time of the year is, how many other women did Gabriel visit first, before he found one to say “yes!” to God’s plan?
The Magnificat is recommended as a possible psalm for Advent 4. Will you be speaking or singing Mary’s song in worship? Perhaps this is a better sermon text – not the precise moment of Mary learning that she will be the mother of God, but her response to it once she has had a chance to process the idea for a minute. What does it look like to have the mighty cast down and the lowly lifted up in today’s world? What could this mean for your congregation?
2 Samuel teaches us about the rebuilding of the Temple, and why God prefers faithful living to beautiful buildings. Romans gives us a typical Pauline run-on sentence that ends with praises to God, through Jesus Christ! Psalm 89 praises the power and faithfulness of God.
Which text will be the primary focus of your sermon? What will you do for the children’s time, if that’s an expectation in your setting? Which hymns or pieces of liturgy will reinforce the themes of Scripture and the end of the season of Advent? Please share your thoughts and suggestions below. Many blessings to you during this busy week and this busy season – and may the presence of Christ be with you!
Katya Ouchakof is co-pastor of Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. Her favorite rendering of the Magnificat is The Canticle of the Turning, followed closely by the Annunciation and Magnificat in Holden Evening Prayer. She has already received her favorite Christmas gift: a newly released Star Wars movie!
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