Friday 13 August 2021

Luke 1 v 37/55

The Gospel reading for Sunday is the story of a young Jewish girl named Mary, who walked many miles to visit her older cousin Elizabeth. The reason she went was because an angel had told her she was going to have a baby even though she had never been with a man. The angel had also told her if she wanted proof she should visit her cousin who in her older age was to have a baby also.

When they meet they greeted each other and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out how blessed she was for Mary. Until that moment she had no idea what exactly was happening to Mary, but made statement congratulating her.

The Old Testament had for centuries told how God would one day send a Messiah,Saviour, a deliverer, who would fulfil the dreams of his people. Every Jewish girl had the hope it would be her who was the mother of the Messiah. hundred years before,God said through the last prophet that not only would he send a Messiah, but would also send someone to prepare the way ahead of him. Now Elizabeth knew in her womb was that messenger. Perhaps she was a little disappointed it was not theMessiah, but she knows it is her cousin Mary who is to be that mother. She statedhow bless you are and how blessed your baby will be. Remember Mary was not yetpregnant.

Then we see a word of consternation when Elizabeth thinks she should be the one visiting Mary; you are to be the mother of my Lord. The Bible tells that John the Baptist would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, and as Elizabeth spoke to Mary she felt her own child moving. Mary’s faith then became real, having faith in the Word of God as she saw it coming true what the angel had said. Now that Mary knows it is all true she is thrilled. We should all be thrilled that everything God says will come true. Elizabeth’s prophecy is over, and now Mary speaks

Imagine you hear some wonderful news you never expected, how excited you would be. Now think of Mary who is to be the mother of the Saviour of the world, God’s only Son. She spontaneously praises God with what has been for centuries sung in Churches all over the world, the Magnificat. This means magnify the Lord, get a bigger vision of God. It is steeped in Scripture, and remember every Jewish boy and girl knows the history of their people and Bible. It is all about God, who is mentioned sixteen times in this psalm.

Mary expresses generosity, for God is her Saviour. The Roman Catholic Church has perhaps made too much of Mary, and the Protestant Churches too little. We don’t need fancy titles and names for her. The Bible has a balanced view, she is the mother of our Lord and we must respect her for being that. We should call her the Blessed Virgin Mary, but no more. She herself stated she needs a Saviour, and only a sinner needs a Saviour. Grace is used to enable a sinner to be the mother of our Lord. God used a sinner saved by grace to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary says she is a servant, a maid servant, and puts herself not at the front of the Church, but as we see in Acts amongst the congregation.

Mary said all generations will call her blessed. She did what many millions of women have done through the ages, had a baby, cared and worried over the child. God did the wonderful part. She praised the integrity of God. We often take a sentimental view of God, seeing Him as always and ever as only a God of love, which of course He is, but you have to go a long way into the Bible before he is stated to be love.

When men and women followed traditional Biblical lines, men were viewed as the stronger sex, who would take the father’s part to provide for the family, and take responsibility for exercising discipline. How many mothers have said to an erring child, wait until your father comes home and I tell him about you. Mothers have always been viewed as the caring and more tender sex; how all has changed. We must all be the same. Men and women alike, all equal under God, when in fact we were meant to have different roles and characters.

Mary told of her fear of God. Holiness and fear of God is where she begins, and when you begin there you see His mercy and goodness. Few people will say of God, holy is His name and His mercy is on them that fear Him. Most people only see God as a God of love, and want to ignore all other aspects of Him. The Old Testament speaks of Him as a God of wrath. For God is a God justice and this requires Him to be angry with sin, but in His mercy is ready to forgive those who truly repent. God is a Father who cares for His children and wants them to follow a right path in life.

Mary has a balanced view of God as she sees Him upsetting all our values of status and importance. God will pull down the mighty and proud and lift up the humble and poor. How did Mary get this revelation? Why me, she asks?

God chooses people not for what they have got, but for what they have not got. This is why He chose Mary, and He gives everything to glorify His Holy Name. Mary realized she was an ordinary village girl who God had uniquely and highly honoured. No human would have chosen such a person.

She ends by praising God’s fidelity. She refers to God’s promise to Abraham and how He has been faithful to His promise and His people. God had not forgotten them. We may forget about God, but He will not forget about us, leave or forsake us He will wait for us to come back to Him

Mary left Elizabeth to have her baby, and by this time Mary would be pregnant herself. She had to return to face her fiancée and friends, She did not try to explain, for who would have believed or understood her. Consider how we have the difficulty of even getting our Church leaders to understand or believe in the Virgin Birth when there is so much evidence.

Mary left it for God to explain. These two women who influenced the world never met again, but their two sons changed history and the course of the world. God comes down and chooses ordinary people to do His work. May be He has a task for you. Remember the words of Mary, for nothing is impossible with God

As we reflect on this story. We may ponder on how people’s minds reason. Millions will say they will not believe what they cannot see proven, or which they do not understand how it could happen.

If I should pick up a small box without any cords and just numbers 1 to 9 on, and then tap in a combination of say twelve numbers, I will be able to speak to someone on the opposite side of the world within seconds, when it would take me fourteen hours to get there by plane, and I could have a personal conversation. Millions of other people across the world will be doing similar action at the same time, yet none would clash or be interrupted. Very few people would be able to explain how this happens, yet they make use of the system. If human men/women can create such wonders, why is it impossible for God to do wonders?

Our minds are not meant to understand all the miracles and mighty deeds of the Lord; the Cross and atonement; the resurrection; the power of the Holy Spirit. We may not understand the virginal conception, but we accept all these by faith.

Mary did not doubt what the angel told her, she was just puzzled, as she might be, as to how this would happen. It was as if the angel was saying ‘Mary you are thinking as a human being and humanly you are right, but this is God at work and He shall come upon you with the power of the Holy Spirit, for nothing is impossible for God’.

We have 580 members in General Synod, costing the Church far too much money, debating issues for which Scripture has already given answers, rather than trying to devise means of halting the exodus of people. It is like arguing which is the best room in the house when the whole house is on fire. The primary aim is to put the fire out never mind the furniture.

We all have a choice. We can refuse to believe, or react like Mary who although she could not understand when told of God’s purpose for her replied, ‘behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to your Word’. That is the question for you to-day; to accept, and yield yourself.

This is why we should have concern for the nation of Israel from which all our teaching emanates. We worship the God of Israel; we worship a Jewish Saviour; born of a Jewish woman; and are taught from a book written (under the inspiration of God) by Jewish writers. One day Jesus will return to there.

It was |God who sent His Son to prepare the great salvation after His prophets were rejected; it was God who raised His Son from the dead; God who gave teaching on how we should live and respond to Him. If our Lord was to return now would He be happy about the religious teaching. Would He wonder why we Christians treat our faith in such casual manner rather than the aggressive evangelism of other faiths?

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