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"I'm the Mother of God!"
based on Luke 1:26-38
by Rev. Frank Schaefer

I chose the sermon title "I'm the 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 back then.

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 religion!

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 encounter himself.

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 either).

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 enough.

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!