This s the last Sunday of Advent. Our preparation, our waiting is nearly over. We will soon celebrate the coming of God as a human being into our world – the incarnation!!. But Advent also mirrors our continued waiting and continued preparation for the second coming of Christ.
Christ’s coming into the world – God becoming a human being – not only shook the foundations of creation – not only did it send shock waves through the spiritual realm but it impacted irreversibly the lives of those who encountered Him in the first century as it has done for all who have encountered Him since.
To believe in and encounter the incarnation has consequences. It requires something from us. It requires us to learn to trust God.
Trusting in God is not about trusting that God exists; or that we will go to heaven; or that he will give us good things, or bless us. Ultimately, trusting in God is to say YES to God – YES you can do with me as you please. It is to place our very existence into the hands of God.
To do that may rock the boat of our lives.
Of course, we would prefer to have a quiet life. If our YES to God really means “please would you just keep the status quo” then we will soon end up in a battle.
What has this to do with Mary and our Gospel reading this morning? Well, Mary emphatically said YES to God.
And the result was that her life was forever changed. And not in an easy way – in fact far from it.
Mary was almost certainly a teenager – anywhere between 14 and 16 years of age – betrothed to a man only to discover she is pregnant.
The shame associated with a woman who gets pregnant outside of wedlock was, in those days, huge.
This was a scandal of huge proportions.
By saying YES, Mary’s reputation would forever be in ruins. Her life would be tarnished within her community as a woman who got pregnant before marriage.
No wonder the Angel said to her “Do not be afraid.”
Did Mary understand the ramifications of her decision to say to the Angel Gaberiel “May it be to me as you have said.”? I think she did. To know that you were about to become pregnant in her culture, not only outside of marriage but while betrothed had massive implications.
It required a huge amount of trust.
Are we ready, able to say YES to God today? Are we willing to say YES to God and all that goes with it – to accept that such a decision may not just change some things in our life, but that it may radically change the whole course of our life?
This is what the incarnation – the coming of Christ – requires us to do.
Mary’s YES forever changed the whole direction and content of her life.
Of course when we say YES to God we know that our lives are in the hands of the eternal Creator of ALL things. Maybe the Angels words to her “The Lord is With you” and “You have found favor with God” made Mary aware of the closeness of the presence of God. For despite all the difficulties that Mary was to endure by saying YES to God, in that YES comes a promise from HIM that HE will be with us – HE will uphold us, to carry us, to strengthen us in the difficulties we face and ultimately carry us through death into eternity.
In the midst of this season of Advent and Christmas the Lord is still asking us if we, both individually, and corporately as a Church, will say YES to HIM and all that will mean. His message through us to the world is WILL YOU SAY YES TO HIM.
Can we say this morning with Mary “Let it be to me according to your word.”