Sermon – December 21st 2014
Advent Four – Year B
By Roland Legge
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16:
Luke 1:47-55 Luke 1:26-38:
Can you imagine being Mary, mother of Jesus? I wonder if the story we heard in the Bible today was really so straight forward. Do you think she would have accepted the news that she was going to have a baby out of wedlock so well and so quickly? What do you think?
I don’t want to denigrate the story of Mary because I believe she was a very courageous woman. But I think the over simplification of her story does not reflect the strong faith and courage she had.
Now let’s imagine that you are Mary. You are young. You are soon to be married. You don’t have a lot of choice about how you will live your life. You are feeling very vulnerable. The man you are to marry is a kind and gentle man. But he is a man of his times. You have to be careful in how you treat him. You have to be careful in what you say.
So when an angel visits you with the so called, Good News, that you are to give birth to the son of God you at first are shocked. You think: How could this be? I am not ready for this! I am in so much trouble! This could mean the end of my chance to marry Joseph. This may be the end of my life. You can’t help but cry!
Mary could have run away and I wouldn’t have blamed her. But Mary shows us the courageous woman she is. She does feel strongly called to bring this child into the world. She somehow knows he is going to be special. But she makes this choice knowing she is doing this at great risk to herself, the baby and the rest of her family. Mary is far from being gentle and innocent. She has a fire within her, the Holy Spirit that leads her forth into the chaos of the world.
I love the Magnificat, Luke 1:47-55, which for me describes her faith. This shows us the radical side of Mary. It turns upside down the traditional understanding of her.
Sadly the Christian church has changed Mary into this quiet obedient women that no woman could ever hope to emulate. Why? She has been shaped through theology to represent the male feminine. These represent the feminine qualities that males suppress in themselves and then project onto women. I quote from Rosemary Radford Reuther:
To a large extent, Mary has been simply a cultural and religious symbol of this projection. She becomes the idealized nurturant mother, cut off from the qualities of sexuality and wifehood that are despised by men. When women try to model themselves after that understanding of Mary, they receive something very distorted and alienating for them—an act that is impossible for any women to follow. Virginal motherhood is not something any woman can actually accomplish.
Sojourners Preaching the Word: http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/onehumanity?parent=41145#PTWadvent4B
I choose to believe in the revolutionary Mary who lives with great courage. She stands up for God in calling forth people to repentance standing in solidarity with those who live in poverty, violence, war and oppression. She does not call women to live a life that does not reflect all of who they are and who they are capable of being. If Mary was living today I think she would a strong feminist! What do you think?
I believe that God calls upon us to live with the same courage Mary had. Can you think of a time in your life when love has been birthed as a result of some ones courage and vulnerability?
I remember when Terry Fox was running across our country to raise money and awareness of cancer. Because of his courage and vulnerability he dramatically increased the research going into the prevention and cure for cancer.
His heart for life touched a lot of other hearts not only in Canada but around the world. He continues to make a difference.
I think of Malala as a contemporary Mary who continues to raise the awareness of the importance of the education of girls around the world and in the importance of respecting and honoring human rights around the world. She is turning the world upside down.
I think of Louis Wilson, former Moderator of the United Church of Canada and former member of the Canadian Senate who continues to work for social justice in our country and around the world. She took on National Sea Products in Lunenburg Nova Scotia when they were negatively impacting the local fisherman and fish factories. She stood up for the rights of women in the United Church of Canada. She challenged the Canadian government to build healthy relationships with countries around the world that respect human rights and to challenge those who didn’t. Lois will never be forgotten.
I think of my Aunt Jean who never gave up on her church and Presbytery raising funds for the Mission and Service Fund. She was the very opposite of meek and mild. She made sure you never forgot about the importance of the Mission and Service fund. She walked her talk through many years of working for the YWCA and as social worker. She has changed me for ever.
In essence Mary was the first disciple of Jesus. Jesus got much of his values from Mary. If it hadn’t been for Mary’s courage Jesus may never have been born. So I give thanks for the mission and ministry of Mary. It was through her courage, and the courage of many other people there is much to celebrate in our world today. There is also hope for the future. Merry Christmas!