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Advent 4B RCL December 21, 2014

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Canticle 15
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

In our first lesson today, King David tells the prophet Nathan that he wants to build God a house, a temple. Nathan supports the idea. But then God lets Nathan know that God has done just fine without a house all these years, traveling with flexibility in tent and tabernacle, and, in fact, God called David when he was just a shepherd boy and made David a king. God says that God is going to make God’s own house, and that is going to be the House of David, that is, the kingship of David and his descendants.

Out of respect for God, we make houses for God, and this is a good thing. But Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “In our Western culture we have certainly moved God out of anything resembling a tent into countless great houses. Are we paying a price for this, now that we once again need to be freed up to discover new ways of communicating Christian faith and of forming Christian community?”

He goes on to say, “Sometimes small groups work quietly with a low profile. Could we call this the ‘tent mode’ of doing God’s work? Sometimes the whole church becomes involved, acting publicly or even politically. Could we call this the ‘temple mode’ of doing God’s work. This is not an ‘either-or’ but a ‘both-and’ situation.”

As we know from history, David’s son, Solomon, did build God a temple in Jerusalem.

Once again, we say the Song of Mary, this week in the contemporary version. The shalom of God turns the world upside down.

Then, in our epistle, Paul is concluding the Letter to the Romans with a call to the obedience of faith in Christ Jesus.

In our gospel, we have one of the most powerful role models for obedience, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Here is this very young woman, engaged to an older man, Joseph, a carpenter, a men of deep faith. An intelligent, intuitive, and courageous man. Here is Mary going about her life, maybe doing the washing or the cooking, and the angel Gabriel comes to visit her! She is not an Important Personage. She lives in a little out of the way place called Nazareth, in that borderline region called Galilee, definitely not a center of any kind of political or other power. In the Bible, angels are not as they are on TV and in movies. They don’t look that human. I think of them as huge beings pulsating with light and power, but I owe that concept to Madeleine L’Engle. The point is, Biblical angels are scary.

Gabriel’s greeting is positive, “Greetings, favored one. The Lord is with you! Just imagine Mary. An angel, one of the chief angels at that, is coming to tell her the Lord is with her? Most people would faint. Mary doesn’t. And we are not surprised, for we know that the steel within her enabled her to stand at the foot of the cross later on

The angel tells Mary that she is going to give birth to the Savior. This is like an angel going to some very out of the way place and telling a young hotel maid that she is going to be president. It is mind-boggling. Mary remains centered. Her mind does not go out the window. In this situation,most of us would be numb. We would not be able to think clearly. But Mary does not lose concentration. In fact, she is actually able to ask a logical question: “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel tells her that the Holy Spirit is going to do this. Furthermore, Gabriel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth has conceived in her old age.

God’s creative and saving Spirit is breaking in. Miracles are happening all over the place. “Nothing will be impossible with God,” says our gospel.

And Mary, still completely centered, replies, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word.” “Here am I,” the same words Abraham uses when God calls him to pull up stakes and start w hole new life in the land of Canaan. The same words all faithful servants of God use to say, “Yes, Lord, I am here. I have faith in you. I will do your work.”

Right after this, Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She is a wise person. We know this from the unwavering faith and determination she shows throughout her life. She goes to visit her kinswoman, her sister in the faith. They are both having similar experiences. They will be able to support each other. Mary knows that we should never make the journey of faith alone. We should always seek wise people who can understand our experiences because their journeys are similar to ours.

God is on the move. God choses the most unlikely people and places to do miracles. God loves the little people and the little places. God exalts the humble and meek.

Christmas Eve is coming. We will gather to celebrate the birth of our Lord, who knows exactly what it is like to be human because he was and is one of us, and he is also the Son of God, He is fully human and fully divine.

God is still doing miracles. Don’t be surprised if an angel drops by to visit you. Don’t be surprised if God calls you to do something you would never have dreamed of. God is full of surprises. God is full of miracles. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Amen.

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