Fourth Sunday of Advent – Sermon 220

Fourth Sunday of Advent

10.00am Holy Communion

23rd December 2012

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start

 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

What do we love most about Christmas?

 

The celebrations – the lights and tinsel?

 

The Christmas Tree?  – Giving and receiving gifts ?

 

having the family round – the food?

 

Or do we like the singing – the Christmas hymns and carols?

 

Today’s Gospel reading includes a special Christmas song from Mary – the Magnificat –

 

Which she sings as she visits her cousin Elisabeth – who is also with child  –

In celebration of the baby she has been gifted with

 

An old- new song – that links the past to the present – and the present to the future

 

A song that uses the language and theology of the OT to sing out in praise of the events of the New

 

Point 1        Proclamation from Micah

 

Our OT reading – reminds us of the prophecy from Micah – that the promised Saviour of mankind  – will be born in Bethlehem  – one of the little clans of Judah –

 

To some this appeared to be the wrong place – after all its such an insignificant location for the Son of God to come from –

 

notwithstanding its connection with King David – and that both Joseph and Mary have ancestry dating back to Him –

Many considered Jerusalem – the only fitting  place for someone of such stature – to come into the world –

 

But our God – is the God of the unexpected – His chosen place for His Son’s birth – will not be a barrier to His success – in fact it would ensure that those who would work to stiffle and choke His development  – would not succeed –

 

He would become like the small mustard seed  – once sown and allowed to grow –will shoot up and become the greatest of all – with branches so large that many will rest in its cover –

 

Point 2  – Reading from Hebrews

 

Our NT reading too has something written of the old – which now points forward to the new –

 

This time it’s about rules for daily sacrifice – that the OT sacrifices commanded by God – were not really what He wanted –

 

For through the giving of Jesus – God has now cleared the Spiritual minefield between Him and us

 

God has replaced every barrier between us and Him – with the cross-scared body of His own Son –

 

A child still expected and anticipated in our Gospel reading – that will show us how we are to truly worship God –

 

He will bring about true forgiveness – to which the temple sacrifices pointed to – but could not achieve

 

The Old system – like an old house – is falling down – and a replacement has come –

 

Through the gift of this child to the world – and His self –offering we are now accepted – made Holy through the sacrifice of His body – once and for all – for all mankind –

 

Point 3  – Mary and her song

 

And so to Mary – and what has become one of the most famous songs in Christianity –

A fourteen year old pregnant teenager – expecting a child out of wedlock – dismissing those  condemning voices from her immediate family -.

 

Proclaiming a moment of celebration – knowing that she would give birth to a child that would be the Saviour of mankind –

 

Mary was able to see beyond the events that were before her – that all that the prophets had said – was coming true – and God was now doing – what He said to Israel’s earliest Ancestors –

 

And Mary and Elizabeth celebrate together what God is doing through their two sons John and Jesus

 

The OT prophets and scriptures spoke of mercy – hope – fulfillment- and rescue –

 

That the mighty will be put down and the rich sent empty away –

 

The poor and lowly – will find hope and there will be a new future for God’s people – in their redemption –

 

And all this will come about because of the birth of her son –

 

God has put in motion events that will transform the world forever –

 

The old has given way to the new – and the new has come to birth in her –

 

Through Mary- an unknown Jewish girl – from a small village – God will share the life of the world as a human being –and will be seen in a new light –

 

Her Son Jesus – will show God’s love in action – and word – fulfill all the promises made in the Scriptures – and His Spirit will reach into the hearts of everyone –

 

Mary begins with the words – ‘My Soul Magnifies the Lord’  – and old fashioned expression that on one level talks about God –  and on another  about Mary  and the way God has taken on a new significance in her life –

 

She praises Him  – and offers herself completely in faith and obedience –

 

Like Mary – we too – are called to respond – to God’s presence within us – to rejoice at God’s victory and undeserved gift to us – to celebrate our God given freedom and new inheritance in God’s Kingdom –

 

We might wonder about our past – our present and where the future is taking us – but Mary’s reminds us – that putting our trust and faith in God – in love and obedience to His will – will ensure that our future will be blest beyond all our expectations –

 

ending

 

This evening we have a candlelight service of celebration – and – if you love carols – it’s a must – there will be much singing and praising  – giving thanks for the birth and life of the One sent to bring fulfillment and love into our hearts –

 

In Advent we wait – we ponder – we reflect like Mary – of how our lives have been changed by the Christ child –

 

And like Mary we too need to sing praises – and thanks to God – for what has happened to us – and for the Mighty one who has done great things for us all –

 

Prayer

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

AMEN