Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

This can be listened to here


Gate Pa – Year B  4th Sunday of Advent,
Readings:
Psalm                          Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26                                                   
First Reading:             2 Sam 7:1-11, 16                    
Second Reading:         Rom 16:25-27                        
Gospel:                        Luke 1:26-38              
What I want to say:
To explore Advent 4 as an opportunity to reflect on how Mary helps us into the mystery of the incarnation and our place in that mystery
What I want to happen:
People to reflect on the Mary’s of today and how we honour them

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

Traditionally Advent 4 is a time to honour Mary
more than that
it is an opportunity to reflect on how Mary helps us into the mystery of the incarnation and our place in that mystery
which kind of begs 2 questions:
-          what does the incarnation mean for us
-          who is Mary for us.
è Let’s take these one at a time.

       2.     The Incarnation

so how might we describe the incarnation
talk neighbours for 30 seconds
response
incarnation is God becoming human
            one of us
whole lot of Christians who think that the only reason that God became one of us was to die in our place to appease an angry God who was looking for some punishment for all the bad things we had done, and still collectively do.
which I find quite sad really
for me incarnation is so big
I think that is inadequate understanding of what the cross is all about
reduces the incarnation to something losses most of its significance
leaves Christ’s life and teaching almost irrelevant
–  ignore it apart from occasional story or line we might like to quote
Incarnation invites us to take Christ’s life and teaching very seriously
Incarnation – is God coming among us
dwelling among God’s creation
does 2 things
a.     reminds us of who God is – in the generosity, compassion, inclusion, justice, and love that Jesus lives throughout the his life as told in the gospels
that is the point of the gospel
want to know who God is
look at Jesus
b.     reminding us of who we are as people created in love to be images of the divine generosity, compassion, inclusion, justice, and love
what is Christmas in light of all that?
It is the great shout of praise for God’s loving gift of God’s self in this child.

       3.     Mary

so how does Mary help with our entering into this mystery
in part I guess that depends on who we see Mary as
talk neighbours for 30 seconds
response

 who do I see Mary as
è Mary was young peasant girl
·        Lived in cave with family
·        Small poor village Nazareth – not thought highly of
·        said in past that very little or no say in her life
o   Done what mother commanded
o   Learning what meant to be wife
o   So that when father arranged marriage, (as he had) she could honour family name being good dutiful wife
o   fulfil her duty well
I am wondering if she was a bit feistier than that.
Luke tells very basic story – as we heard
wonder if we can read between the lines a little bit
To this young peasant girl Luke tell us
comes messenger
Archangel Gabriel
“Greetings favoured one – the Lord is with you”
messengers come from very powerful men and said things like that that usually meant life as you knew it was over
-          taken off – of lucky become concubine
o   if unlucky – used and discarded
Luke says she is perplexed
I wonder if that is code for her yelling – Mum, Dad – come here. I need you.
Luke goes on
““Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
He will be great,
    be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
    the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
    no end, ever, to his kingdom.”.” 34
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
which might have gone a little more like
“and just what kind of girl do you think I am. I am good. I obey my parents. And I have not done anything that is going to get me in that kind of fix thank you very much. So you can take your grand ideas about conceiving and bearing a son and go find some other girl.
We are poor and humble. No great kings here. May be you’ll find your girl from the next village over. “
The angel answered,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
    the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
    will be called Holy, Son of God.
(which doesn’t seem to be making any impression – still looking quite dubious
Ø carries on with plan b)
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant!
Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
to which Luke has Mary replying immediately
I wonder if there was a pause while Mary considered all the angel had said
and all the risk involved in this
then she makes her decision and replies
Yes, I see it all now:
    I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.
between the lines it feels like Mary argues her case
she takes some control of her situation
not completely powerless

       4.     So What

è how Mary helps us into the mystery of the incarnation and our place in that mystery
I think Mary offers us 2 ways into the mystery of the incarnation
first is to follow her example
constantly consider all that is involved
and to say – every day
Yes, I see it all now:
    I’m the Lord’s, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.
The second is to see the many Mary’s in this world today
peasant girls and boys
poor girls and boys with little or no say in their lives
many whom have found favour by working on the plantations for little or no wages
            provide the raw materials for our chocolate and coffee
poor girls and boys sold into employment by their parents making cheap goods, and not so cheap goods – we give this Christmas
Incarnation invites us to see each of them as made in the image of God
and we are invited in the choices we make this Christmas and every day
to treat them with same generosity, compassion, inclusion, justice, and love
Christ offers us.
è how Mary helps us into the mystery of the incarnation and our place in that mystery
what about you?
spend moment reflecting on that – or talk to neighbour

no creed
today we will do the Angelus


      The Angelus


V. The angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary.
R. And she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your Word
.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. 

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us
.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen


V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


V. Let us pray: Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
R. Amen

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