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November 28, 2004

What Mary Heard, Asked, and Said

Luke 1:26-38

Of all the themes in religious art, the scenes of the Annunciation are my favorites. An artist can help us see an event like that in a different light.  In a lot of the religious masterpieces, we find symbols that sometimes are bold and obvious and sometimes hidden in the back ground, but either way helps us see the event through the eyes of the artist and not the eyes of the academic.

I.                   What Mary Heard

a.       Startling News

                                                              i.      She would have a son.

b.      Hopeful news

                                                              i.      This child would fill the throne of his ancestor David

                                                            ii.      He would be called the son of the most High

                                                          iii.      He would reign forever.

II.                What Mary Asked.

a.       How can this be?

b.      Like Mary, that is our question…How?

                                                              i.      Gabriel’s answer:

1.      This is God’s work.

a.       Nothing will be impossible with God.

2.      To us, it is mysterious.  It’s a matter of faith, not anything else.

III.             What Mary Said.

a.       Let it be…according to your word.

IV.             What the Artist painted.

a.       Robert Campin’s painting the Merode Triptych, depicts Mary, sitting on the floor reading, unaware of Gabriel’s presence.  Coming through a window above Gabriel’s head is a beam of light and on that beam is a small image of a baby holding a cross.  The artist suggests that as Mary hears the words of God from Gabriel, the infant takes form inside her.

V.                What about this Advent?

                                                              i.      Are we willing to say, “Let it be”?

                                                            ii.      Are we willing to allow Christ to be formed in us?

Monday, November 29, 2004.

Read Luke 1:26-38 again and place yourself, as much as you can, in Mary’s shoes.  What would it have been like to be young, unmarried and pregnant in ancient Israel?  What fears would be running through her mind as she asked, “How can this be?”  What does it say about her faith when she responds, “Let it be…?”  

Tuesday, November 30, 2004. Go back to Luke 1:5-24 and read the story of the Annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zachariah.  Remember that Zachariah was a priest.  It was his turn to be in the temple.  Gabriel, he was a busy angel, appeared to him and told him about the son his wife was to have.  What was Zachariah’s response?  Remember, he and Elizabeth were older and had never had children.  What Old Testament couple do they remind you of?

     Compare and contrasts Zachariah’s and Mary’s response to the angel.

                        Zachariah                                                       Mary

Zachariah was unable to speak until the birth of their son for his unbelief.  What did that period of silence do for him?  What would a period of silence bring forth from you and me?  Are we afraid to be silent before God?

Wednesday, December 1, 2004.  Read Luke 1:67-79, Zachariah’s song.  Read very carefully what his song is about.  Notice his song is full of acknowledgment of what God has done in the past and will do in the future.  How is that different from our prayers?  Are not our prayers “wish lists” of things we need and want?  When was the last time we thanked God for what God has done, is doing and will do?

Thursday, December 2, 2004.  Again, read Luke 1:67-79.  Notice the last few verses, starting with verse 76.  “And you, child, will be called the prophet…”  Notice he is talking about his own son, John the Baptist.  John is that “forerunner” the one who will go before the Lord to prepare his way.  Do we ever think of ourselves as “forerunners”?  Who are we preparing for the Lord?  Remember, this is Good News, and Good News is meant to be shared.

Friday, December 3, 2004. Take a moment and finish reading the Christmas story from Luke. Luke 2: 1-38.  If you haven’t found yourself getting in the “Christmas spirit” yet, whether due to the unusually warm weather, or it just doesn’t seem like it should be December yet, take the story and read it and then sit silently before God.  Allow God to help find the “true” spirit of the time.  Don’t be afraid to sit silently before God, in the silence you will find the Christ child being birthed in you.

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