4th Sunday in Advent – Sermon 169

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to Start

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



Surprises – Christmas is full of them – what with – the presents – cards – rich food – visits from family and friends – its a time of celebration and enjoyment –

its also a time – when you can get a few unpleasant ones – as we’ve seen in the news recently – job losses – shop closures –

This morning we’re going to focus on one of the greatest surprises that ever was – the surprise that took place when an angel called – Gabriel appeared to a young teenage girl called Mary – and gave us the greatest gift – we could ever receive –

It was a surprise that would change the world – forever – and one that affects our lives today –

God was looking to establish His kingdom on earth – and He chose the most unlikeliest person and the most unlikeliest way to do it


Point 1 – David – God’s promise of a His Kingdom

Where do we find God? – well the answer of course is everywhere –
yet even though we know this is true – we often act as if – its not –

we treat church as if – God is especially present here – in this building – but no where else – when in fact He travels with us wherever we go –

For the Israelites in David’s time – that presence was – symbolised by the Arc of the Covenant – which they carried with them – everywhere

David was the New King of Israel – and in our OT reading we are told he looks at the palace he is living in – and the meager tent – where the Arc of the Covenant is being held – and believed God was telling – Him he had to do something about it

He decided he must build a temple for the Arc – that would be at least as beautiful as his own –

His heart was – in the right place – but his actions weren’t –

This was not what God wanted – so God sent the prophet Nathan – to remind him that – He had no wish to be tied down to one place –

God has never been tied down to one place – He has always traveled with His people – in the ups and downs of their lives-

For us today – God is experienced even more closely – through the indwelling Holy Spirit –

We find God whenever and wherever we pray – He is present every moment of our lives – involved in everything we do – ready to help and guide – and wanting – us to grow closer to Him –

David wanted to build a glorious temple in Jerusalem – so God could be honoured by all His people – but God had other plans – ones that would have a far greater impact – than David could have ever imagined –

A young woman wanted to be a missionary – and after hearing about them – and praying about it – and talking to people– she had no doubts that that was what God was calling her to do –

she went to college to prepare – and graduated – and just a few weeks before she was to leave – her only sister and husband – were tragically killed – in a car accident – and left four children –

because her parents had already passed away – there was no way she could leave – she was their only surviving relative – and shuddered at the though of putting them in an orphanage – she was also devastated at the thought of not going to the missionary field – but nevertheless raised them as if they were her own –

In the following years she was a devoted mother – and they grew up – in a loving caring home – when they were old enough to leave home – she was too old to begin a career as a missionary –

How could God let her down like that? – we might ask – well it turned out that the woman’s sister and
husband were not Christians – but with her they – were raised in a Christian home – and all four children went on to be missionaries –

So rather than God having one missionary – four missionaries came out of her house –

God’s purposes are not always what we see – or what we expect –

David’s dream was shattered – but it didn’t mean that he was out of it – God gave him another role – making the preparations for the building – rather than building it –

and instead of David building God a House – God built David a family – and promised that one of his heirs would build that temple for Him –

It may not have been what he expected – but it was still God’s plan – and David responded- in faith and enthusiasm

-God’s nos’ are not dead ends – but pointers towards a different direction – and its when we are moving in God’s direction – that He looks to us for a resounding ‘yes’

Point 2             Mary accepts the King

What me? Surely God can’t want to use me? –

How many times – have we echoed that response – when God has asked us to do something for Him? –

Luke is the Gospel of the Christmas story – the journey to Bethlehem – the inn with no room – the birth in a manger – the Angels and the shepherds – and Mary – pondering all these things in her heart

Most of us would have said that a girl so young and inexperienced – couldn’t possibly have known her own mind –

but as Luke shows us – after an initial protest – and questioning of the Angel – as to how such a promise to her can possibly come true – Mary accepts what is said – and says “Yes” –

still – confused – and perhaps wondering why she had been chosen – she measures what was being asked- of her – not against her own resources – but against God’s – and offers herself – as the bearer of God’s Son –

‘I am the Lord’s servant’ says Mary – ‘Let it be as you have said.’

God chooses the most unlikeliest people – and the most unlikeliest ways to do His work –

Mary will bring God’s only Son into the world –
and help to establish His kingdom not only in her heart – but in all our hearts –

The story of Mary calls for a similar ‘Yes’ response from us today – we warm to the accounts of Jesus’ birth – we celebrate His life and ministry – we accept Him as Lord – but God wants more He wants us to be changed – our lives to be turned round – by Jesus – recreated through His grace –

The child to be born – will be the Messiah – the king of the house of David – God’s promised descendent of David who will reign for ever – not only over Israel – but over the whole world


Point 3          God’s kingdom in us 

We are God’s chosen people – God’s temple here on earth – when we accept Him as our saviour – He will travel with us – and through us – show His presence to others –

God’s gift of Jesus is an event that happened in our history – through God’s love – and grace – and the promise of everlasting love – first given to David and his dynasty of kings – is offered – to us today – through Jesus Christ – so that He will live in us – and we in Him

God’s wisdom is seen in Jesus Christ Himself – and above all in His Cross – which appeared to mankind – to be a foolish way – to save – but turned out to be the only way to redeem us – and bring us to Him –

Jesus was sent to show us the way – so we can find God here on earth and at our life’s end go to Him in heaven –

The fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins – and was raised from the dead – means that we too can be raised- and never die again – The fact that Jesus ascended to His Father and took His place – at His right hand – means that we too can join God in His heavenly kingdom –

Jesus gave everything for us – so that we could receive everything from God –

A little boy was with his Father – at church looking curiously at the Nativity scene – “Dad – look at the manger – is Father Christmas there? – “No” said his Father – it’s the Kings giving presents to Jesus – remember we told you – that Christmas is really about – a celebration of Jesus’ birth –

The boy thought for a moment – and then asked another question – Dad – “What are we giving Jesus for His birthday this year?”

The greatest gift any one can receive is Jesus Christ – and the most important gift – we can give Him – is ourselves



Jesus is the fulfilment of the promise made to David – The promised heir sent to establish God’s kingdom on earth

God calls us –like Mary – to accept our part in His revelation – to receive Jesus into our lives – and reply in faith as she did – to be part of God’s kingdom on earth – and to be the bearer of His Son to others –

We know the full Gospel story –
we know we have a God of surprises – let’s surprise Him – and accept Jesus into our lives today



In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit