Sermon Notes 12.8.2019

12-8-19               Sermon Notes                  “The Promise of Potential”

Some mornings (OK, a lot of mornings) I go through the drive-thru at McDonalds and get a large Diet Coke (just 99 cents).  Almost every time I do, a nice lady at the drive through window who takes my dollar and ten cents (with tax) says to me, “Have a blessed day.”  I say, “Thanks! You too.” I was thinking about “a blessed day” in connection with the angel Gabriel coming to visit Mary.  Gabriel says, “Greetings, favored one!  The Lord is with you.”  That’s not quite, “Have a blessed day,” but almost.  Mary doesn’t smile and say, “Thanks!  You too.”  Instead, she was “much perplexed…and wondered what sort of greeting this might be.”

I know what the nice lady at McDonalds means when she says, “Have a blessed day”…at least I think I do.  I think she means, “I hope everything goes great for you today.”  Amen, sister!  But Gabriel means something totally different.  Gabriel’s words are about promise and potential.  Gabriel’s comment “The Lord is with you,” is both comforting and a little scary.  And Gabriel’s comment calls for a response.  Is being “blessed” really both comforting and scary?  Does being blessed call for a response?  I think so.
Let’s look at the story again as Luke told it…  

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 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 ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be[d] a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
 Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
 and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
 from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
 he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
 and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
 and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
 in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
 to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
(Luke 1: 26-56 NRSV)

This Sunday we are going to dig deeper into this powerful story – a story of HOPE, COURAGE, and CHOICE (both Mary’s and Joseph’s).  We are going to look at PROMISE – (God’s Good News to us) and POTENTIAL (Our Good News to each other and the world).

HOPE to see you Sunday!
Pastor Sam

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