Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snapshots of Mary

Snapshots of Mary

Intro.: Seven and one-half years ago, on a Sunday morning in late July, I first came to Garland United Methodist Church.
  1. I had met for an hour or so with the PPRC in either late May or early June and a quick decision was made to see how well I would fit into this church.
  2. That first Sunday in July I began a five week series that I entitled “Snapshots of Grace”.  As we come to the end of my ministry here at Garland, I again want to take a look at some more snapshots that God has provided us – but not the same set that we looked at 7-1/2 years ago.  I want to spend my last few weeks looking at what I am entitling “Snapshots From the Manger.” 
  3. Over the next few weeks, I want to be the aspiring photographer who has been assigned to follow the various people we find associated with the Christmas story.  As we will see, not all of them may have been at the manger – but they all have a place in the first year or so of our Saviors life. 
  4. I want to begin today with the mother of Jesus – Mary.
  5. To get us started turn with me to Luke 1:46-55.

Read:  Luke 1:46-55


Trans:  Mary is a common Jewish name.
  1. We first find in mentioned in scripture in Exodus – the sister of  Moses is named Mariam – the older version of the same name. 
  2. The name has its roots in the Egyptian name Marye meaning “beloved.”
  3. Most of us would have no problem understanding her being one of the most beloved women in church history.
T.S.  In the next few minutes I want to look four snapshots of Mary presented in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

I. Snapshot #1:  Mary meets Gabriel

A.  I do wonder what it would be like to meet an angel face to face.  On the one hand, I would find it wonderful to meet a messenger (that is what angel means) from God. 

B.  But Mary did - 

C.  I wonder how she knew it was angel.  He did not identify himself.  We see that meeting in Luke 1:28, “Greetings, favored ones.  The Lord is with you.”  

D.  It was not his appearance that affected her – rather it was his words.  Scripture says she “pondered” the words.

E.  But the angel was not through - “And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

F.  Mary did not understand, but she had a choice.  Timothy George suggests that Mary was Jesus' disciple before she was His mother.” 

G.  She could have rejected God's demands on her, but she did not. Though she did not understand everything that was being asked or her, she was willing to be obedient.  
(Appl.)  Sometime ago I mentioned a book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  His most famous book, The Cost of Discipleship was written in 1948.  What he makes clear is that there a cost associated with obedience – a concept that most of us would have no problem accepting.  What we sometimes forget is that there is also a cost associated with disobedience.  Mary was willing to weigh the cost of both of obeying and disobeying.  She chose to pay the cost of being obedient.

H.  Mary set an example – when God asks something of us, we need to be willing to obey – whatever the cost.

I.   Gabriel had more to say – he prepared Mary for what was to come.  But her willingness to obey was what God needed and what God got.

II.  Snapshot # 2:  Mary and Elizabeth

A.  I don't know what relationship Mary had to Elizabeth.  Tradition says they are cousins but the Greek word, sungenis, can mean a variety of things – cousin, aunt, or even a more distant relationship between two female relatives.  But their relationship is close enough that Mary traveled to the Judean hill country to visit Elizabeth. 

(Ill.) Sandra and I like to travel – we take a couple of long trips each year and a couple of short trips. This past year has taken us to Nashville and California and to Corning and Camp Asbury. I don't know how often Mary got to visit Elizabeth, but I suspect that she looked forward to making the trip. It is the one person we know she trust enough to confide in, to share her story

B.  Mary is now pregnant and when Elizabeth and Mary greet each other, the baby that was growing in Elizabeth leaped.  Elizabeth's response suggests that she has some idea of the importance of what is happening in Israel - "Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”"

C.  Mary probably knew very little about having a baby – probably a bit more than me, but not much.  She knew even less about marriage or parenting.  She knew the disgrace that would probably come her way as she carried her child.  If she understood the prophesies, she knew that the child would suffer.    It would have been a awesome load to carry.

D.  Yet when we read Mary's response, as we did earlier, we realize that she was appreciative of the task God given here.  Verses 46 to 55 have come to be called the Magnificat.  The Magnificat does two things – first it celebrates the role that Mary has been given (vs 44-49) and it celebrates the role God has played in getting His people ready to receive their savior. (vs 50-55).

E.  The promise of being God's servant would be painful – in many ways.

F.  It was true for Mary, it may be true for us.

III.  Snapshot # 3:  Mary at the Manger

A.  The final snapshot is outside the inn village inn.  The village is Bethlehem and Mary is about to give birth. 

B.  Mary and Joseph have traveled 40 miles through the hills which lie between Nazareth and Bethlehem.  Now, because the inn is full, they are in a barn with a manger available as a baby bed.

C.  Over there are some donkeys, on the other side of barn may be some sheep or cattle.  With the number of travelers in town that night, there may even be some camels in or around the manger that night.

D.  I don't think any of us – either as fathers or as mothers would want to see our children born in that environment.

E.  Yet, that is where Mary is that night.

F.  Later that night, shepherds from outside the village come and visit.

G.  After the visitors are gone, Mary is left with her child.  Joseph is probably sleeping nearby.  And we are told that “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”  The events of the last nine months would remain with her forever.

(Ill.) Most of us have had times when God had touched our hearts. It may be in the midst of a crisis, or maybe at a time when life is really calm – for a change. But we know God is there. Times that we are left pondering what that moment might mean. For me, it was when I saw the rainbow as I drove back from La Crosse, WI, back to La Farge where we lived at the time. I pulled the car over, I could only stop and praise Him. 

(Appl.) Are there times in your life that have left you pondering what God has done? What was God trying to teach you? May you have more of those days – when God reaches out to you and allows you meet him.



No comments: