Mary is a great inspiration to Christians throughout the world as she said YES to God, who through the message of an Angel, choose her of all women in all time to bear the Eternal Word of God, whose birth we recall and once again celebrate in four days time.
However it is sad to note that for all the devotion and inspiration she engenders through her obedience she is also for many a source of division and contention, in particular within the great Protestant denominations that took life at the Reformation 400 years ago.
Why is such an easy thing – to say yes – so hard when it comes to God?
Well the fact of the matter is that in saying yes to God we are never really sure what is to come next! Saying Yes to God inevitably means saying no to ones own ego and motives, agenda and will.
As it was for Mary, so it is for us. The life of God is conceived and nurtured in each of us when we are willing to let it be so. It happens through God's power, not our own.
The transforming presence of Christ is not just for Mary - nor just you and me, it is for all who call Jesus Lord. For when we become followers of Jesus Christ we become part of a larger hope for all God's people: and where better to see hear that hope articulated than in the song of Mary that we just hear read in our Gospel reading – the Magnificat
- the hope, indeed the reality, of God's acts of mercy and justice on behalf of those who love Him in every generation,
- the hope that sees God lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things.
But let us turn to this morning, this the last Sunday in Advent, and as we do so there is another choice that has to be made here today
The God who spoke to Mary through an angel now speaks to us through Holy Scripture, announcing that we too have been chosen to give birth,
- to give birth to the "coming again" of the Christ child.
For our celebration of Christmas, when it comes, tells of a story, of events, that happened a long time ago and at one level still have the power to touch the human spirit and inspire us to live even if only for a day peacefully and cheerfully if not a little merrily!
However the story we will recall in a few days time is really a story about you and me to day, and it is one about letting the holy Spirit touch us, to mould us to challenge us and lead us on. It is an opportunity to let Christ once again stir in our hearts and minds, as he did in the hearts and minds of those who witnessed his birth in Bethlehem long ago
We have been chosen, at our baptism, we have chosen to be here this morning as a sign of our discipleship and we have a choice to make this morning – and it is this – how will we prepare to receive this gift of new life that we celebrate in four days time?
That, in the end, is what Christmas is about. It is a story about our lives today and about how each has the opportunity to answer the angel as did Mary and receive the gift of new life.
The Angel is telling each of you this morning,
and will continue to whisper in your ear:
Greetings to you, O Favoured One, the Lord is with you.
What we do with that greeting, that message from an angel, the message of Scripture is up to you and me