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Congregational Development and Revitalization | WAIT Week 4: Waiting on our Calling

WAIT Week 4: Waiting on our Calling”

Luke 1:26-38

Over the last several sermons we have been talking about waiting.  Waiting is a theme of the Christian season of Advent. Advent means “appearance.”  So just as the people in The Old Testament waited on the appearance of the messiah we too wait on Jesus’ second coming.  We also wait on God’s work in our lives.  We have talk about waiting when God seems to be silent.  We talked about waiting on Salvation or finding that peace we hear other Christians talk so much about.  We talked about waiting on God’s justice in the world.  We also wait on what it is we believe God’s is calling us too.  One of the biggest questions I get is, “How do I find out what God wants me to do?”  As we look at the story of Mary’s calling, perhaps we will see better how to wait on our own calling.

 

I read a story about a little boy who was making his Christmas wish list to God.  He began the letter, “I know I have been bad this year, but if you will give me the things on this list, then I will be good for a year.”  After giving some thought to the letter, he decided a year was too long, so he changed it to say, “I will be good for a month.”  Then, he scribbled out month and wrote in, “week.”  After giving some more though, he went into the living room to the manger scene and took the figure Mary and went back to his room and wrote, “God, You better give me what I want because I have your mother.”  

 

It is rare that the Christmas story is told without us telling about Mary.  There is something about her that makes us want to tell her story.  At the beginning of the story, Mary is pledged to be married to Joseph.  We would call this an engagement, but it was really much more than that.  There were three steps to being married in this culture.  First, the bride and the groom’s families would get together and work out the arrangement of the marriage and settle the sum of money the groom’s family would pay.  Then, the couple would be engaged for about a year and then they would consummate the marriage by having sexual relations.  

 

In our text, an angel comes to Mary and tells her that she is pregnant and is going to have a child.  This child is not going to be just any child, but he will be the promised messiah who will deliver Israel.  The question in my mind is why the angel comes to Mary and not someone else.  What was so special about Marry that she was the one chosen?  The angel calls her “the favored one.”    

 

Could it be that Mary was favored because of her righteousness?  Maybe she was just that good of a person that God favored her over everyone else.  After all, God likes people who are righteous.  It could have been that God wanted to use her because she was a virgin.  Maybe that was why he chose her.  Although I am not sure what would have separated her from all the other young women of her time.  Maybe Mary had been praying about finding some way to serve?  I don’t know the answer, I just know that for some reason, God chose her and showed favor to her.

In many ways I suspect that God chose Mary because she represents all of us. God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  When I think about Mary, maybe it wasn’t really about her being extra righteous, although she probably was a good Jewish girl.  Maybe it wasn’t her age or marital status or even that she asked for this.  Maybe God chose her the same way he chooses us.  And, just like Mary God even calls us to do the impossible. In Luke’s gospel Elizabeth and Mary had children, one was barren and one was a virgin.

 

When thinking about this text, it occurred to me that God’s calling for Mary is to move her from just believing that one day God would rescue Israel and the world, to actually changing her life to be a part of what God is doing. The book Right Here, Right Now asks this question,

 

 Are we living as disciples, or do we just believe in discipleship and, under the cloak of belief in discipleship, continue in our old ways?  Do we show real love, or do we just believe in love and under the cloak of belief in love remain the same egoists and conformists we have always been?  Do we share the sufferings of others, or do we just believe in this sharing, remaining under the cloak of a belief in “sympathy” and remain as apathetic as ever?” 

 

It reminds me some of my son Caleb and his fear of Santa Claus when he was younger.  The day that Caleb was supposed to go and get his picture made with Santa, he reassured me all morning that he was not afraid of Santa like he was last year.  All morning I heard, “I’m not scared of Santa”  “He is nice” He kept this up all mourning. He even remained brave while we were in line to see Santa.  That is until he was the next person in line.  As he approach he got weaker and weaker until he began sobbing.  I am reminded that so often we have the right belief and as Christians we have mastered the right answers, but somehow it never materializes into a changed life.  We keep on living the same way, unaffected by our beliefs.  

 

Mary’s call was about doing more than believing something; it was about acting on what she believed God was doing.  She was not going to be able to sit on the sidelines.  However, it is even more than this.  Mary’s calling was more than a nine month calling.  It was a calling that will change her whole life.  Jesus’ calling on us and his presence with us is not a one time event, it will change our lives.

 

Francis Chan, in his little book Crazy Love tells the story of a missionary named Nathan in Ethiopia who worked with people who had mossy foot.  This is an illness that causes swelling of the feet and ulcers and leads to infections.  Apparently this has a leprosy type affect on people causing them to be isolated from society.   The story goes that once he got a tooth ache and had to be flown away to get it treated by a dentist.  Nathan was so passionate about serving the people of Ethiopia; he decided to have all his teeth pulled so that a tooth ache would not keep him from his mission.

 

I am not suggesting that we pull all our teeth, but what I am saying is God’s calling should change our lives so radically that we will put it all up for him if we need to.  If it means we leave our homes and jobs for the sake of his calling, then we go, if it means we sacrifice financially and live in a smaller home, we go.  We follow the advise of a teenage girl, pregnant and not married and we say, “Let it be with me as you have said, I am your servant.”  

 

Is Mary More Special than You

 

The descriptors of Mary in the passage are quite overwhelming really.  For Gabriel to come and tell her she is the “favored one.”  My guess is most of us don’t in any way feel favored by God or even special for that matter.  When we think about God’s calling for us we probably shoot kind of low because who are we to deserve a high calling like Mary.  Not only that when we see ourselves we don’t necessarily feel like we have the gifts and talents to do anything too special for God. 

 

Rascal Flats sings an amazing Christmas song called, A Strange Way to Save the World, The chorus says this about Joseph and Mary, 

Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade

Why Him with all the rulers in the world

Why here inside this stable filled with hay

Why her, she's just an ordinary girl

Now I'm not one to second guess

What angels have to say

But this is such a strange way to save the

World

 

Are you ready for this…  The only difference between me, you, and Mary and Joseph is that they said yes. When we say yes to God God will use us to do great things in saving the world too.

 

Read about WAIT Week 4: Waiting on our Calling in this story from The Call

WILDFIRE 2016

In November 2016, the southeastern U.S. suffered from a series of wildfires in the midst of a long period of drought. Holston Conference counties in southwest Virginia, north Georgia, and east Tennessee were among the ...

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