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Love's Invitation

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Love’s Invitation

intro -
Luke 1:26–38 NIV
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
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pray
[first impression pic]
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right?
… “You can learn so much about a person, their intentions and motives, their sensibilities, even much about their personality, from the way they greet you when they first meet you.”..I am sure there are people even in your own lives, that you formed opinions about based solely on those first impressions.
As far back as ancient Egypt, we can find letters written of people condemning other’s based on their first meeting.
You can even see that in scripture! The most glaring example is Samuel…[thought all the other sons of Jesse should be king]
Even today, there are thousands of books available to you that would help you learn to make a great first impression!
Talk about some aspects...
Talk about my first impression with Bob Buckner
my intro was bad, but my response was worse!
“Our response to a first impression, or an invitation of any sort, can and will dictate the outcome of that relationship, and in fact, maybe even our lives!”
Luke 1:30 NIV
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
Luke 1:
[don’t read scripture]
And we can see this play out so clearly in our text today. This Angel, tasked with bringing the very word of God directly down to earth, and to Mary, understood the importance of first impressions!
Talk about the angel not needing to worry about Mary’s feelings…just needed to deliver the message. [Even so…]
maybe a brief aside about that stuff […just telling the truth…we need to follow the angel’s lead and tell the truth, but love people enough to disarm their fears and hurt as well.]
But this message wasn’t just any old message! That is why Gabriel is sure to capture Mary’s attention and show His own good intentions right away!
Don’t be Afraid! You have found favor with God!
Before we dig too deeply in the text, thought, let’s think about that greeting. I want to apply it to our own situations so we can understand a little better what it means.
Have you ever met someone for the first time, and they respond to meeting you with “Oh I’ve heard about you from soandso...”?
That can be a scary moment…you never know what they might have heard.
That is exactly what is happening here, only the Angel makes it perfectly clear that they have only heard awesome things! “You have found favor with God!” “You are special!”
Personalize that…move towards idea that those types of first impressions actually serve as an invitation.
“In those moments, we realize that there is something far bigger than just an introduction happening! Something that could change us if we are only willing!”
[Invitation pic]
An invitation.
That is really what Gabriel’s greeting is all about. It isn’t as much a declaration, as it is an invitation!
“Don’t be afraid, Mary! Don’t be afraid! God loves you. God has a huge plan for you. God needs you.”
That is what I hear in this text. I hear the cries of love’s invitation! The invitation of God that comes to us all at some point in out lives! The beautiful expectations of a loving Father, who is ready for us to open our hearts to His reality!
Do not be afraid.
Those simple words of assurance are so much more than a greeting church.
I mean, just imagine, for a second, if you heard those words! Don’t be afraid...
It would disarm us, wouldn’t it?
Just like when someone tells us they know us, it removes the need to show them something we are not! In this moment, God sent a message that invited Mary, and in fact, invites us all, to be who we are! TO BE WHO HE MADE US TO BE!
[get bible] In Mary’s case, she was the very bearer of the Christ. The hope of the world. She was to [read vs 31-33]
That’s quite an invitation isn’t it? If we are being honest, it is less an invitation to actually do something withing her power, and more of an invitation to the miraculous!
It turns out, that is the underlying subtext of Christmas, and especially of the Advent season!
This broken world, detached from God and yearning for salvation and peace and hope and joy and love; waiting desperately for something. And we aren’t waiting for something we could ever get on our own, no, we are waiting on the miraculous!
And church, that is just where Mary is at this moment. And there in the face of this unreal invitation, she has the same response that you and I likely have!
Luke 1:34 NIV
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
Luke 1:
To put it in my generation’s vernacular, “Whatchu talkin’ bout Willis?
To Mary, this wasn’t just an invitation to the miraculous, it was the invitation to the impossible!
And, church, I can see us, I can see me in that response!
How many times have we felt God calling us, but thought it was too hard, or even impossible, and then ignored it?
[examples] end with “how are we ever going to be able to live our lives like Jesus tells us to?”
It’s just impossible, right? Church, God’s invitation only SEEMS impossible. Listen, He won’t call us to something that doesn’t exist, or is impossible. Oh it might seem impossible, but God isn’t in the business of calling us to the impossible! No His invitation is to the miraculous! That is what I see in this text today!
In fact, that is what love’s invitation is all about!
Just look back on your life. Look back on all that love has called you toward. Church, when I was in high school, there was no way I could graduate from college. Impossible! There was no way that Kate would ever give me the time of day! Surely she would never marry me! And then later in college, there was no way I could get through grad school, or ever get a job! As I felt God calling me to ministry all I could think of was how bad I would be at it, and how impossible it seemed. And even before I came here, I just knew I would be terrible! I knew that I couldn’t do it! I knew that no matter what God thought He was calling me to go do, it was absolutely impossible!
And church, let me tell you, I was right!
Matthew 19:26 NIV
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Luke 1:38 NIV
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
I can’t! But He can.
I can’t! But He can.
But how? Mary’s question can be heard in all of our hearts. Church, that is the thing about God, and His invitation. Whenever He calls us, church, we need to realize that it isn’t duty, or obligation, or some other thing calling.
It is Love’s invitation.
God is love church. And God invites us in love to participate in His plan and creation, and when we respond to that invitation of love, we find that with God, with love, all things are possible.
To take that a step further, just imagine what this world would look like if we all took God up on His invitation to join in His work! Imagine if we heard that invitation of love in our lives - the invitation what sings out so clearly during the Advent season - imagine if we took that invitation as more than just words of assurance of our own faith! Imagine if we saw it instead as an invitation to do the unusual and the bold! Imagine if we heard those words as words of assurance that create space in our lives for the courageous action that God calls us all to do everyday!
Imagine, church, just imagine if we answered love’s invitation in our lives like Mary; knowing full well that our single moment of bravery and boldness hold’s within it the very fate of the entire world! Imagine if we all could understand that the invitation of God always carries with it the reality that we alone are intended to answer love’s call, and then for the sake of the entire world, we are to carry out that call in our lives, and out into the lives of this world!
Luke 1:37 NIV
For no word from God will ever fail.”
Imagine, just for a moment, if we took God’s words to heart!
God calls us all every single day! He invites us to His work. He invites to live with Him! And every day, we look at that task just as Mary did here in our text. “How will this be?” How will we ever do it? And church, I am convinced that even if He answered us all, we would still have moments when we doubted, moments that I am sure Mary had as well!
But church, those moments can be dictated by our response to love’s invitation! We can master those feelings and overcome those doubts, simply by reminding ourselves of the only reasonable response to love’s invitation! The response that Mary models for us all!
Luke 1:38 NIV
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
I am your servant, God.
May it be as you want it to be. No matter my doubts. No matter my ideas. No matter how impossible it might seem! May it happen just as you mean it to happen!
Just imagine for a second all the excuses Mary by rights should have given! Church this was bigger than losing a couple fleeting friends over your faith, or a job that you love because of God’s call elsewhere. This isn’t having to change a routine or a habit. This is God calling this child to - at best - be ostracized by the entire world - and at worst, at least in her mind, to death!
Job 5:8–9 NIV
“But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.
[princess
Church God invited Mary, and invites every one of us not to the mundane, but to the miraculous! He invites us to the impossible! And He does that, church, so that we will all lay down ourselves for just a moment, and pick up that child in the manger!
Church God invited Mary, and invites every one of us not to the mundane, but to the miraculous! He invites us to the impossible! And He does that, church, so that we will all lay down ourselves for just a moment, and pick up that child in the manger!
Church God invited Mary, and invites every one of us not to the mundane, but to the miraculous! He invites us to the impossible! And He does that, church, so that we will all lay down ourselves for just a moment, and pick up that child in the manger!
And don’t think He will show you the whole picture either! He didn’t show Mary! Just imagine for a second, what if God showed Mary everything? What if God showed her something beyond that miracle of conception? What if God showed her the years of attachment to the very Son of God? What if God showed her the whips, and the crown, and the yelling, and the cross?
God doesn’t show us the whole picture. And to be honest, we don't’ really want to know the whole picture. But He shows us enough to know that He is in control. He shows us enough to know that His invitation, love’s invitation, is an invitation to the miraculous!
“Here I am”
after Gabriel tells Mary she has found favor “This is what God’s favor looks like!”…not like we expect
Sheet stuff
And that is the most powerful message of Christmas, church. "Nothing is impossible for God!" No matter what you are facing, no matter where you come from, no matter who you are or who you where. Nothing is impossible for God.
Do not be afraid ______________ , you have found favor in God
So do not be afraid. Fill in the blank. Answer love’s invitation. You have found favor with God. You have found love in God. You have found life in God. And because of that love, and that life, God has invited you to the miraculous. Follow Him there, church. Take the chance.
Be bold.
Stand up and respond to love’s invitation just as Mary did.
I am your servant, God. You bought me. You gave your life for me. And now, I give my life to you.
May it be just as you say, because with you, and with love, nothing is impossible.
Invitation - love’s invitation...
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