Sermon On Joy & Mary
May I speak in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christmas is not only the season of goodwill it is a season of joy as well. Especially for children. Adults can also experience the pleasure of joy. Those of us who have given birth to an offspring will probably fondly remember the lead up to the birth. It may have been a time of anticipation. Will the actual birth be easy and smooth going or will it be more difficult? It was probably a time of excitement? Naturally any new born is an exciting time for the prospective parents. The world awaits an additional entry of a new soul. It perhaps was a time for pride. The creation of a new being by two people working closely together and of course the sheer happiness and joy when you look at your creation for the first time.
I expect Mary had all these thoughts and feelings within her during the lead up to this unique birth, the actual birth itself and of course the after effects when it was all over. I wonder how she felt that she would be giving birth to a very special baby. A baby that would be the son of God. A baby that would save the world in a time to come and a baby that would make people think differently and be so grateful to God for his fantastic present to everyone.
Mary was just an ordinary person. There was nothing special about her so why did God choose her above all others to carry His son and bring Him up as His mother? It is true that God sees deeper things in every person. He and only He knows who to choose to do a specific task. He knows things and qualities in us that even we don’t know.
There are many tasks God has purposed for us to accomplish. At any given time there may be thousands of people who have the same natural talents, learned abilities and spiritual gifts to accomplish these tasks…but the vast majority God does not even consider.
First of all, it is important that we lay aside some of the misconceptions about Mary. She was not sinless. Very few people living are. In fact, Mary revealed that her spirit rejoiced in God her Saviour. In so doing, she declared her need of a Saviour just as much as anyone else. Not once does the scripture say that Mary was God or that we should worship her. She was just a normal person as we all are.
If we are going to learn from Mary how God can use us, we must understand how God took an ordinary woman and used her in an extraordinary way.
God did not use Mary because she was highly educated. She was not. He did not choose her because she was wealthy. She was poor. So why did God choose Mary?
Mary’s initial reaction was fear as probably all of us would feel if we had been singled out from an extremely important task directly from God.
So what kind of fears could have occurred in Mary’s mind?
The first and probably most important was the fear of criticism – "What are people going to think. I haven’t been joined in marriage and I’ll be having a baby."
The fear of uncertainty – "What are all the things that will happen to me?"
The fear of inadequacy – "Can I handle all of this?"
The fear of change – "What changes will all this bring about?"
The same four fears can keep any one of us from being used by God. Mary gives us an example of three qualities that kept these things from controlling her and enabled her to be used by God:
The desire to do God’s will and the joy accomplished by doing it.
The willingness to pay the cost of devoting her life to someone so special
The faith to trust God’s promise
There are three things about Mary that reveal she earnestly desired to know and do God’s will.
She was sensitive to finding out what God wanted her to do. In Luke we read, "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." Whenever there was a clear message from God, Mary would ask, "What is God saying and how does it apply to me?" We get our clear messages from God from the scriptures. Every day we ought to have a private time to read God’s word and ask, "What is God saying and how does it apply to me?" If we are truly sensitive to knowing God’s will He will show it to us.
She was joyful and enthusiastic about doing God’s will. Luke states, "And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour." Mary was not like some who say, "Well, I know God wants me to do so and so. That’s not what I wanted to do, but I guess I’ll have to just grin and bear it." Mary was joyful and enthusiastic about doing God’s will.
She was humble and yielded. "Behold the maidservant of the Lord!". Luke reminds us. "...For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant …" She didn’t think, "God is sure lucky to get me! With my abilities I’m going to do a lot of great things for Him." She was thankful that God was willing to use her. Mary desired to do God’s will.
God only uses people willing to undertake the assigned task with joyfulness.
A joyful and expectant Dad is convinced his wife is having a boy and is planning all sorts of activities for himself and his young son. When his wife`s labour looks like going into overtime, he realises his leave time is at it’s limit and that he`ll have to get back to work until his wife delivers. He asks his father-in-law to let him know when the moment has come. He says "When my son comes, don`t call the office and say that I have become a father of a boy because I`ll have to shell out a lot of money for cakes and rounds of drink at the pub. Just leave me a message that the clock has arrived. This will be our code for the arrival of the baby." The offspring does finally arrive, but it`s a daughter. The father-in-law now thinks to himself, "If I tell him that the clock has not arrived, he`ll misunderstand and think that something has happened to the baby and come rushing over." So when the time comes the father-in-law leaves the following message: "The clock has arrived okay, but the pendulum is missing!"