Mother of God!"
based on Luke 1:26-38
by Rev. Frank Schaefer
I chose the sermon title
Mother of God!" because it is an outrageous statement. In fact, making a
statement like this in today's world could easily get you in the nuthouse.
Luke most likely heard the story of
the annunciation from Mary herself (Mary is identified as one of the witnesses
Luke had interviewed for the writing of his gospel). It is her "calling story"
as we preacher-folk would name it.
As outrageous as we would think a
statement like this would be in today's world, as outrageous it must have been
We have this sense about the New
Testament era that everything was different. We idealize it in our minds; to us
it was the time of miracles, a time when God really did talk with people, when
angels delivered messages and when the world was still O.K. Gimme that ole time
Realistically speaking, however,
the New Testament times were not so different from our times. When Mary had the
encounter with Gabriel it was just as hard for people to believe her story as it
would be today. That's why Joseph decided to leave Mary until he had an angelic
So here is Mary, Mary quite
contrary telling everyone that she is pregnant, not because she slept with a
guy, but because by the Holy Spirit of God she conceived a child within her. And
that child was no other than the Messiah himself—the Savior of the whole world.
I have to admit, if a person were
to actually try to cover up an infidelity, they would probably not come up with
a story like this. Mary's story has so many outrageous claims in them that it
actually sounds like she indeed believed in it.
Why would anybody make up such a
tall tale. People do make up stories to cover up mistakes, but they will tell
tales that are more realistic and believable, they claim they were raped, or
that they sat on a dirty toilet seat (well, maybe this isn't so believable
For Mary to claim she had been
favored by God was so incredible that it actually became credible.
Say what you may about Mary, she was a
remarkably brave woman (or actually: teenager). Once she got the message from
God via the messenger, she stood up for her belief and told the whole world! You
have got to admire that kind of conviction and courage. She proclaimed the good
news of Christ, before he was even born. She didn't care what others thought of
her or how they treated her. She knew what she had seen and heard and that was
I wish I had this kind of
conviction and zeal. I think we can all learn from Mary. God has called me too.
But when was the last time I shared my calling story? I don't even remember.
When was the last time I made a faith claim in front of colleagues at work or
friends at the football game. When did I last profess my faith in God; when did
I last admitted to someone that I believe in the possibility of miracles,
answered prayers and divine healing?
In a real sense, Mary was not
unlike the man in Jesus parable who found the great treasure in the field while
digging in a field. When he happened upon a big treasure he went and sold
everything to buy that piece of land on which he found the treasure.
I just recently gained a little
experience with digging up my yard; except that I wasn't looking for a
treasure—I was looking for one of my septic tanks which needed to be pumped out
(which the township makes us do every 3 years under threat of penalty if you
don't comply). After digging about 6 or 7 holes my yard looked like Swiss
Cheese, but I did finally find the lid. Now I marked the area so hopefully in 3
years time, when I have to do this again, I will be able to find it right away.
Mary, once she found God, sold
everything, including her credibility and her reputation; she did it to obtain
the greatest gift of all, God himself. God does not force his gift on us, God
does not force himself on us. We need to reach out and accept it, at the cost of
giving up some of our comforts, plans and dreams. Are you and I willing to
accept God's calling like Mary did?
May God give us grace so that we
can join Mary in saying: "Here I am, The servant of the Lord; Let it be with me
according to your word." And then let's go out and
proclaim our faith to the whole world, telling the outrageous stories of what
God has done in our lives without regard of our reputation. Let's tell them that
nothing is impossible for our awesome God.
And who knows, we may just witness
how people around us will change, just like people around Mary changed. Perhaps
people will come to believe us because they see our conviction and loyalty.
Perhaps they will come and ask us to pray for them, or perhaps they just start
to share their problems with us.
If there is one thing I want to
learn from Mary, mother of Jesus, this morning it is to live my Christian life
like I believe in it. Amen!