Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B
December 21, 2014
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38a
“…let it be with me according to your word,” says Mary. Let it be. What a statement of radical assent! What an affirmation of faith, a declaration of trust, and a testament to courage! I can only imagine what must have been going through Mary’s mind as she puzzles through the angel Gabriel’s words to her. And isn’t that the way God works? Just when you think you have your life plotted out, your future delineated, and your affairs arranged, the Divine One comes into your life and throws you a massive curve ball. Once you get over the shock of whatever change God has visited on your life–willing or unwilling–you stand with mental dustpan and broom in hand, sweeping up the remains of your carefully constructed past while simultaneously focusing your vision on a new reality. That new path ahead may seem wildly improbable, perhaps downright foolish, even absolutely absurd, but remember the angel’s words: “With God all things are possible.” Just ask Mary.
Here’s the thing: We humans become so wrapped up in our carefully woven schemes and plans that we easily forget whose we are and in whom we move and breathe. Even in our faithful work of the kingdom, we sometimes slip off the rails of divine imperative to trot down a path of our own choosing under the mistaken notion that we are “doing God’s will.” Even the most casual glance down the halls of history will illumine the folly of that approach to discipleship. Yet we are good at justifying and rationalizing our own wills and ways as being aligned with God.
Here, this very week, we can take some instruction from the mouth of one who was barely more than a babe herself, from the teenaged Galilean girl who became the mother of God’s own incarnate self, who bore the Savior of the Nations into this world at great risk and cost by uttering the simple words “Let it be with me according to your word.” Perhaps, in reality, she had no other choice. One can only run from God so long. We don’t know. What we do know is that she stepped forward into God’s reality with all of her being, for the rest of her life. Perhaps that is enough for us, too, to simply be present in God’s reality–one step at a time.
Sometimes, to be sure, our steps will be hesitant and faltering. At other times our feet will dance for joy. There will be day of great weariness and sorrow, while other moments will find our footfall resolute and purposeful.PWe are part of God’s grand narrative of creation and salvation, woven intimately into the fabric of faith. Let it be. Let it be with us according to your word. Let this be our prayer as we are sent into the final week of Advent, this new beginning of the ever Good News of God.
This is the final week for the Advent mural, mosaic, poster or whatever you have constructed. In showing that we as the family of God, you will want to have worshipers connect their pictures to pieces of blue yarn (18-24 inches). Tie and/or weave these pictures together to “frame” the picture. If you don’t have pictures you could cut out male and female gingerbread shaped paperdolls and have worshipers write their names on them. Another option is to simply have small circles of cardstock for them to write their names on. Remind them that we are to “be” part of the story of Christ’s Advent, that we are bearers of the Good News to the world. We join with saints across time and space to form a chain of witness. Yes, we are called to go and to be that light of Christ to a hurting world.
The angel tells Mary that with God all things are possible. Mary’s response to that statement is an overwhelming affirmation to let God’s will be done. She was signing on to a lifetime of both great joy and deep suffering and pain as the mother of God. Invite youth into a discussion of Gabriel’s statement to Mary. Do they really believe that all things are possible with God today? Consider sharing The Canticle of the Turning, based on Mary’s Magnificat and then talk about how our world might be about to turn. What signs of hope and promise do you see? How can we be agents of change, responding like Mary–“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”?
This week use the verses from Psalm 89 for the children’s sermon–particularly verse 1, where the Psalmist says, “I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever, with my mouth i will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.” Ask the children if they like to sing. Invite them to sing “Jesus Loves Me” with you. Tell them that this simple hymn tells everyone exactly what the psalmist was trying to say. Show the children a copy of your hymnal and tell them how many hymns are included. Tell them that people have been singing hymns of praise to God for thousands of years, so we stand in a great tradition of faithful singing and praising of God. If you have a version of the Magnificat (Mary’s hymn) in your hymnal, sing a bit of it with the children, or ask your choir to sing part of it. Two that work well are “My Soul Proclaims Your Greatness” and “The Canticle of the Turning.” Even Jesus’ mother sang. Pray for the children inviting them to lift their voices in song during the coming Christmas season, to enjoy singing the great hymns of Advent and Christmas in praise of our Lord.
Photos: Paukrus, carulmare, Creative Commons License. Thanks!