Sermons That Work

Everybody Knows That Oysters…, Advent 4 (B) – 2005

December 18, 2005

Why Mary for the mother of God? Why Mary?

Mary was apparently an ordinary person. She was not rich or wellborn. Wasn’t she an unlikely representative of humankind to give birth to the savior?

Mary was so simple, so plain, so ordinary, so much like the rest of us. And that’s the answer, isn’t it? The flesh that became Jesus came from the body of one who was just like us. The body that gave birth to him, the body that nourished him from the milk of her breast, was just as plain and ordinary and vulnerable as our flesh.

Mary’s ordinariness allowed God to make it absolutely clear that Jesus was truly and fully human. No one could say that Jesus only appeared to be truly human—or that he was not like every one of us in every aspect of our bodies. No one could say he was different because he was born to a wealthy or royal family.

What we know of Mary is little. Yet we know of her humility and her faith and her obedience to God. She was a person who was completely “herself.” She was not pretentious, or boastful. She was wholly content to be who and what she was, and to do what God gave her to do.

She was open to what the angel had to say to her but honest enough to question how she could possibly conceive and bear a son. Yet she was obedient and did what she was told. She said in reply to God: “Here am I, the servant of the lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

So we can well understand why God chose one so young and inexperienced to be the mother of the Lord. She had not grown old enough to become skeptical or cynical about such things. She was fresh enough in her humanity to embrace an accepting attitude so that she could hear and heed the word of God’s angel.

In addition, Mary’s faith was uncomplicated and pure enough for her to believe in miracles. She was able to accept a truth that came from outside human knowledge and beyond human capacity.

Mary had courage. She was willing to stand up to whatever gossip or rejection might come her way because she was pregnant and not married. She was willing to suffer a mother’s worst fate, bearing a son who would necessarily be taken from her all too soon. She was willing to give him away so the whole world could have him. Later, she would watch her son walk the rocky road of a controversial religious leader, see him reject her on one occasion, see her son receive threats and abuse. Finally, Mary would stand at the foot of a cross, helplessly watching him die a humiliating death.

In a way, we are presented with this same message as the one declared to Mary by God’s angel. Mary, the mother of our Lord, helps us believe in the miraculous possibilities of God—in the truth that only the power of God can produce salvation from the body of an insignificant and ordinary young girl who lived in an obscure village. Mary helps us understand that as God chose her, he chooses us in our common-ness and ordinariness to be the continuing instruments of his flesh. She becomes our mother, too, as we live this life together as the body of Christ, in the same plainness of humanity that was made Godly by Christ’s sharing it.

We are to be the bearers of the Christ—for our bodies are the only place where he may live on this earth. We are the body of Christ—when we let Christ dwell
within us, and when we share Christ with others, God will be with us always. By opening our lives to Christ, we, like Mary, are blessed among all men and women. By sharing Christ, we, like Mary, take part in the greatest, most wonderful thing the world has ever known.

As Christmas Day rapidly approaches, are we ready to receive the reality of God within us? Are we ready to put the Christ within us to work, as we love God and our neighbors as ourselves?

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Christopher Sikkema


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