The Gratitude of Mary
The Gratitude of Mary
December 11, 2011
by Rev. William “Buck” Day
Well we get to look at a piece of Scripture that we just heard about in our Sandbible. And that is a very good thing. So today we are going to be looking at the angel’s visit to Mary. So I invite you to follow along as we start in Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26 through 38.
God’s word for us this morning!
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
God’s word for us this morning! Once again, let’s ask God’s blessing on it.
Mighty and holy God, thank you, and Lord thank you for your word, for the gift that it is in our lives. I ask Lord that you would use it to quicken our spirits by your Holy Spirit to hear what you have for us today. We ask that in your name. Amen.
Well I want to start with some statements from some experts about what they thought the future would be. So, see if these ring true.
First one is: “I think there is maybe a world market for five computers.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
“But what is this good for?” an engineer of IBM in 1968 commenting on the microchip.
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Chairman of Dell Equipment in 1977.
“This is an interesting concept. It is well informed, but to earn better than a C, the idea has to be feasible.” This is a Yale University professor commenting on Fred Smith’s paper proposing a reliable overnight delivery service. He started FedEx.
“Who the heck wants to hear actors talk?” One of the Warner brothers in 1927.
“A cookie store is a bad idea. Market research says that Americans want crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies.” That was a response to Debbie Fields with her idea to start Mrs. Fields Cookies.
“We don’t like their sound, besides guitar music is on the way out.” Decca Recording rejecting the Beatles in 1962.
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” U. S. Patent Office, 1899. (laughter)
“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.
And then finally, “640K should be enough for everybody.” Bill Gates, 1981.
Short-sightedness has caused us to maybe miss some important things in our lives. Think about how grateful we are that these people, in the face of the comments that you just heard, didn’t stop their work, didn’t get sidetracked and didn’t get put off by a little bit of doubt.
Well we have been talking about gratitude during this Advent season, and today we want to focus on this divine revelation with this young little girl and how she believes what she hears to be true. I love Mary’s response at the end and that is why I left it up (on the screen), where it says may it be as you have said. “Let it be according to your word.” Now if you think about that, that is not only an amazing statement from a young girl whose whole world is about to be turned upside down. You could even argue that she was so young that she couldn’t possibly understand all the implications of the angel’s pronouncement. But I think what makes this statement really amazing is that her words carry with it the choice to be grateful. We have been talking about gratitude over these few weeks as a choice. It is something we can choose to be grateful for or to be ungrateful for. A lot of what we choose there comes out of how we view our relationship with God. The more we understand our lives as a gift from and sustained by God, the more thankful we are going to be in the lives of those around us in response to God’s saving grace. Mary’s choice to be grateful at the angel’s pronouncement, even if when she knew what that would mean and for the child within her, is our quest today. I invite us to look at what Mary might be grateful for from this text as a result of the angel’s visit.
One of the things I think we can say right out of the gate about Mary, and I think it also applies to us as well, is that the Messiah, the child to be born to Mary, is a Savior that all of us can relate to as a person. This child while being holy, while being the Son of the Most High God, is also human, is also human and will be in all ways human in all the ways that you and I are. It talks about as he grew as a boy—we don’t know a lot about that from Scripture, from his childhood. He didn’t distinguish himself. Yet when we look at the prophecies concerning his life, particularly at the end of Isaiah, Chapter 52 and the beginning of Chapter 53, it says that his appearance and his upbringing was not one that you would expect of one who would come from royal bloodlines. You see that throughout his life. When he entered Jerusalem on that final day, on Palm Sunday, he rode on a donkey—not exactly a royal procession, was it? And in the New Testament, Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that Jesus came in the form of humans, in human likeness, and became an obedient slave, our Savior, our Lord Jesus came in the world as you and I do. He grew and developed in Mary just as a normal child would. He was born naturally and the best that we can say is that he had a normal childhood, that he learned a trade; because that is what boys did in his days, they learned their father’s trade, and he became a carpenter. He lived probably a regular adulthood for thirty years until he began his public ministry. And in that, Scripture also tells us that Jesus experienced everything that we experience. Think about that for a minute. All the joys, all the pain that we experience, all the heartbreak, all the mountain top experiences, Jesus has experienced that too. Think through the ups and downs of your life, Jesus knows about that. We have a Savior who can not only save us from our sins but is one who understands our lives, who understands the human experience. As we reflect on that, that is something to be grateful for. We have a God who is intimate with us. Thank you Lord, let us be grateful for that this Christmas season.
If Mary, as well as us, can be grateful for our relatable Savior, I think we can also be thankful that we have a God who keeps his promises. Joseph was not the only one who was from royal bloodlines. If you were to look at Mary and trace her ancestry back, she also came from the house of David. So she too had royal bloodlines. So Jesus really truly had royal bloodlines. The phrases that Luke uses in our text here, particularly in verse 32, we find parallels with those when God is talking to David about giving David his throne in 2 Samuel 7. In that passage out of Samuel, God tells David that he will have a great name, that he will have a throne for his kingdom, that he will be God’s Son and that his kingdom, his house, will be established forever. Now look at the parallels from our text that we just had. The angel tells Mary that Jesus will be great, that he will have the throne of his father, David, that he will be the Son of the Most High God, and that he will be king over the house of Jacob forever. What is happening here is that God is completing the promises that he made to King David so long ago and for all those who are looking for the coming Messiah, God is showing here. Here is the proof. I am acting on what I have said in the past. So we can be grateful that God acts on his words. And we can see that. Scripture is filled with the promises for us as the followers of Christ in all of our areas of life. So the question is how has God fulfilled his promises to you in your life? What does that look like for you?
Well I want to give you twelve promises that you can claim and that you can also be thankful for in this holiday season. I am just going to kind of zip through these for you and I will also say if you want a copy of these I can get you a copy of these as well. So, things we can be grateful for:
We can be grateful for God’s presence. He says “I will never leave you.” in Hebrews 5.
We can be thankful for God’s protection. He says, “I am your shield.” in Genesis 15:1.
We can be thankful for God’s power. He says “I will strengthen you.” in Isaiah 41.
We can also be thankful for God’s provision in that same verse from Isaiah 41:10. He says “I will help you.”
We can be thankful for God’s leading. He says “when he brings out his own sheep, he will go before them.” John 10:4.
We can also be thankful for God’s purposes. He says “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for peace not for evil.” Jeremiah 29:11.
We can be thankful for God’s rest. “Come to me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
We can be thankful for God’s cleansing. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
We can be thankful for God’s goodness. “No good thing will he withhold from those who work uprightly.” Psalm 84:11.
We can be thankful for his faithfulness. “The LORD will not forsake his people for his great name sake.” 1 Samuel 12:22.
We can be thankful for God’s guidance. “The meek he will guide.” Psalm 25:9.
And then finally:
We can be thankful for God’s wise plan. “All things work together for those that love God.” Romans 8:28.
We have a God who keeps his promises. He stands by his word. So we can take him at his word. And I invite you to do that. And as you do that, you will find gratitude growing from inside of you.
Mary as well as we can be grateful that we are also used by God; and again, I go back to this last response of Mary: “Let it be with me according to your word.” Let it be with me according to your word. That needs to be the cry of our heart. Mary’s response is this yielding submission to God’s will. She is saying, I will be your servant. I will do as you have said. She is being faithful despite knowing what is in front of her. First and foremost she has to tell her fiancé how she got pregnant supernaturally. That was probably a pretty easy conversation… In addition, the whole community would see that as the child began to grow within her, they would begin to scorn her and push her away; because, in fact, in that day for an unmarried woman to be pregnant, she could have been stoned by the community. Those are the things that she is facing, but she responds, “Let it be according to your word.” She was faithful to walk the road that was before her because she believed what God told her. And it was in her faith that God acted exactly as the angel said he would. A child would be born into the world. That child would become the Savior for all humanity, and Mary would be forever seen as the one who was faithful to that child.
How have you been used by God? Really, how have you been used by God? I hope you think about that in lots of different ways that you get used. In addition to Christmas being on Sunday, New Year’s Day is on a Sunday, as well. I want to invite you back for that day, as well. Because on that day we are not going to have a message, but what we are going to do is we are going to have the opportunity for us to hear how God has been using all of you over the past year. I am going to have the opportunity to say, “Tell me, how has God used you in this past year, to be a blessing to all of us as a community?” So I invite you to come back on January 1st to share how God has been using you; because I think as we reflect on God’s action in our lives, if we take that time of quiet reflection, we will be amazed at how God has used us in ways that we could never remember. So I invite you to take that time of remembrance to reflect on what God has done in your life.
There was a young boy, his name was James, and his desire was to become the most famous manufacturer and salesman of cheese in the world. He planned on becoming rich and famous by making and selling cheese. He began with a little wagon pulled by his pony that he named Paddy. After making the cheese he would load the cheese onto the wagon and he and Paddy would head out into the streets of Chicago to sell their cheese. Well as the months went by, the young boy began to despair. He wasn’t making any money despite all the work and the long hours. So one day he pulled over the wagon and the pony to the side and he began to have a conversation with Paddy. He said, “Paddy, there is something wrong here. We are not doing this right. I am afraid we have our priorities wrong, they are turned around somehow. They are not where they need to be. Maybe we ought to be serving God, placing him first in our lives.” So he turned around the wagon and went home that day and he made a covenant with God. He said he would serve God first and then would work as God had directed. Well many years later this boy was now a man and he was the Sunday school superintendent at North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago. He said, “I would rather be a layman in North Shore Baptist Church than to be the head of the greatest corporation in America. My number one job is serving Jesus.”
So remember that the next time you bite into a Philadelphia Brand cream cheese, or Maxwell House Coffee, or some Digiorno Pizza, or macaroni and cheese or Jello, or you take an Oreo apart and you eat the middle out. Remember this boy and his pony named Paddy and the promise that little James Kraft made to serve God and to put him first. I invite you this Christmas season to embrace our Lord that your heart might swell with gratitude as you remember that we have a Savior who is just like us, that we can relate to. We have a Savior who keeps his promises and we have a Savior who wants us to work alongside of him.
Let me pray for us.
Mighty and Holy God, thank you. Thank you for this day, thank you for the gift of your Son and the faithfulness of so many like Mary. Lord help us to once again remember that you have come to give us life. And Lord you work with us as we walk through our lives, you encourage us, you strengthen us, you uphold us in your strong right hand because you know our life and we will give you all the glory, in your name. Amen.