4th Sunday in Advent – Sermon 36

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



What do you find wonderful and exciting about Christmas? –

The decorations – the party atmosphere – the rich food – the holidays off work – being with your family and friends? – over-indulging in a little wine or spirits?

If you ask many families what they think makes their Christmas enjoyable and exciting – they will probably answer – the children – seeing their faces light up as they open their presents – giving and sharing time with them –

There are many things wonderful about Christmas. The fact that we have a Christmas at all is a wonderful tribute to the overwhelming love and grace of God – given through the gift of His Son –to each one of us – so we can start afresh –

Our readings this morning cover God’s covenant with David – which became the source of hope for the Jews – of a coming Messiah – and the annunciation of Mary – through whom that hope was fulfilled – heralding a new beginning – for their immediate families – and for the whole of mankind

We are going to look at these passages to see what we can learn about God’s grace and purpose for them and us – and how we should respond to His precious gift –

Point 1 – David – God’s promise of a saviour

In our OT reading – the writer of the second book of Samuel moves to a time when David’s wars were over – and his thoughts were turning towards building a Temple to enshrine the Ark of the Covenant – which he had transported to Jerusalem

David wanted to fulfil what was expected of him – as King – to honour the God that had given him so many victories – by placing the ark in a building more in the style and accordance with his own dwelling –

But through Nathan – God reminds David that He is not bound to any particular location or building – in the wilderness the people met Him in a tent – never in this long period has a command been given to establish a fixed dwelling –

God lives amongst His people – not in a building – He does not want elaborate places – or monuments – He wants us – not our substitutes –

the lack of a Temple did not hindered God’s work through David –
in verse 7 to 9 He reminds them –

"I appointed (the judges) to shepherd my people Israel – – – – I took you from the pastures to be prince over my people — – – I have been where ever you have gone , and have destroyed all the enemies in your path" –

David had been the brilliant general – but he owed his success to the one who had accompanied him unseen throughout his life –

God calls him – My servant David – to remind him that although he is a King and surrounded by those who serve him – he too has a servant role in relation to God – Any journey towards greatness would therefore have to begin with submission and service to the Lord God –

In a beautiful play on words – God reverses David’s proposal – and promises to build him – a house – a dynasty that will last for ever

In verse 16
“Your family and your kingdom will be established for ever in my sight; your throne will endure for all time”

A great name is promised far ahead of David’s own time who will crown with a new significance all that David had stood for as King –

God had been building up Israel ever since the days of Abraham – Israel’s place had already been put on the map –and now He commits Himself to build up David’s Royal house – so that His promises to Israel are fulfilled –

this passage became a seedbed of hope for later generations – they expected – God to act through a Son of David – the Davidic Kings were also promised that God would be their father and they their sons –

They hoped God would fulfill His promise – and a Son of God would again come to rule in God’s Kingdom

Point 2 God enters our History through Jesus

In our Gospel reading we see the beginnings of the fulfillment of that promise –

Luke constructs the account of the Annunciation very carefully – the greeting of the Angel and the news that she would have a son – the protest that she was not yet married – and the reply that it would not be a man who came to her – but the Holy Spirit of God Himself –

The expected event was to be unique – something wonderful – a new human being – but one whose origins lay directly with God Himself – literally the Son of the most high –

The figure of the blessed virgin stands in the tradition of Christianity as the great symbol of the meeting between God and humanity – of things of heaven – and things of earth – willingly and humbly she responds to God’s initiative and receives the Holy Spirit unto herself –

“I am the Lord’s servant “ said Mary “Let it be as you have said”

By entering into our history and giving His Son –

God declares a place within it and a desire to share part of it . He came, He comes, He will come – to the world and to the heart of every believer who is ready to receive Him – and who is ready to reply in faith –

God gave His only Son Jesus Christ so that our sins might be forgiven and we can be reconciled back to Him – In Jesus we can find salvation and freedom and the true love of God –

The story of the Annunciation brings together the miraculous conception of the one who was to be the saviour of the world – God Himself taking on human form and sharing the whole process of gestation and birth – just as He was to share the agony of death – But He does so only with the gracious consent of a woman –

Point 3 Saying Yes

Most of us would have said of a girl so young and inexperienced as Mary– that she could not possibly have known her own mind – but Gabriael approaches her with all deference and respect. Confident that even this teenager is capable of responding to God’s will for her –

That confidence rests on 3 qualities – which shine through –

Her humility – she is astonished to be greeted as one who is specially favoured

Her Honesty – she was not afraid to question the Angel as to how his promise to her can possibly come true –

Her affirmation of life – having asked her question and expressed her doubts – Mary then says “Yes” – she still does not know all that lies ahead but she accepts God’s will for her life – and so becomes the bearer of the world’s saviour –

Today a “yes” affirmation – a readiness to embrace life and not draw away from it – is required of us all – if we are to be bearers of faith and hope and love in a world looking desperately for the means of its salvation

Like Mary we are required to believe that God means what He says – and act upon that word –in faith – not by reasoning out the significance –

We are required to respond to the Gospel – which as Paul puts it – has the power to make you stand firm – takes its source in Jesus – and is meant for all

It is the Gospel which issues in an
obedient world – where God is King – an obedience founded on faith and trust – and a willing ness to say “yes” –

For Paul a Christian is a person who has fallen in love with God – who in turn loves each one of us – and whose love stands for ever full displayed in Jesus Christ –

Saying “yes” – gives us a clear goal – the way of self surrender – such was the choice Mary made –

May god help us make it too –


So are you excited about Christmas this year –

Will Christmas herald in a new beginning in your life – as well as a new millenium? – will you commit yourself in faith and love – to the service of Christ –

Many people believe Christmas is about children –

It is – its about the children of God –you and me – and our relationship with Him – who became a child – and shared the same processes of life and death – that we have to face

As Advent heralds Christmas – so the story of the Annunciation to Mary prefigures the way God works in Christ – in the midst of her ordinary life – Mary is called to make a whole hearted “yes” – a “yes” that lets God work through and within her –

Her life was characterised by faith – humility and obedience to the will of God – and like Mary –

Our part in God’s revelation – is to receive and reply in faith as she did –

The truth and reasons behind the incarnation is something wonderful. Who amongst us can really understand what took place first in a virgin’s womb in Nazareth and then in a stable in Bethlehem –

But it was an event that happened in our history – as a consequence of God’s love – and grace – and for our salvation – all we can do is – accept it with love and wonder at it all


In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit