Dear Hyde Park Family,
We are ten days away from that grand, holy night
When we’ll gather for carols and warm candlelight
To celebrate Christmas, and Jesus Christ’s birth
And God’s gift of love given to the whole earth
But first there’s this Sunday: Advent Week Three!
When we will thank God for the girl named Mary!
We’ll re-read her story, in Luke chapter one
When God called on her to give birth to a Son.
What was it like, as that story unfolded?
When Mary was called, as Isaiah foretold it?
“A young woman will come and give birth to a boy
Immanuel’s the name that this boy will employ.”
Well, come with me now, to that most holy scene,
And imagine with me all that we would have seen.
Back two thousand years, to zero B.C.
(Or as academics might say, back to 4 B.C.E.)
We come to her home, and we knock on her door
We hear footsteps approaching, from the indoors
She appears before us, and the first thing we see,
Is that Mary’s so young! Just barely a teen!
What we also can see is how common she appears
No glitz, and no sparkle, not mature past her years
As a girl, she’s quite plain in a quite troubled time
Could this be what Isaiah said would be God’s sign?
Then suddenly, from nowhere, with a loud boom
Came the presence of something quite big in the room
We jump to our feet! We jump here and there!
For an angel’s appeared here, right out of thin air!
“Mary” he says to her, “Peace be with you”
“The Lord is with you and he favors you, too”
We all look at Mary, and she’s white as a ghost
She’s never played host to a Heavenly Host
What is this girl thinking, while she’s standing right there?
Is she frightened with fear, is she gripped with a scare?
Then we see, in her eyes: she is troubled, confused.
(If to you came an angel, wouldn’t you be so, too?)
She’s a normal young teen in a Nazareth town
Just the typical type that we’d see all around
In a sense, she’s no different from the you’s and the me’s
So she wonders, “Why me, Lord? Tell me, won’t you please?”
We guess the angel reads minds, ‘cause he rightly reads ours
He says, “Don’t be afraid, Mary.” And he says this with power:
“God has richly blessed you, and soon you will give birth
To God’s one only Son, the Messiah, on earth.”
“God will make him a king, somewhat like ones you’ve known
Just like David his ancestor was king long ago.”
“He will be a great king, over all Jacob’s kin
And the kingdom he rules? It will never end.”
Then Mary opened her mouth, and she sounded quite tense
As she started to speak, her words really made sense.
She said, “How can this be, I am such a young girl!”
I cannot be pregnant, there’s no way in the world!”
(She does make a point, she’s not married just yet
And the baby-maker-kit is a two-person set!)
Then the angel replied, his voice strong and secure
He responded with words that were divinely assured:
“The Spirit of God upon you will arrive”
And then in your womb the Messiah will thrive.”
“God’s power will rest upon you and this one;
For this reason, your child will be called God’s Only Son
“And in case you forget this, please let me remind you
Of this one certain truth: there’s nothing God cannot do.”
We are speechless by now, and not one of us speaks
We’ve lost touch with reality, in some bad campy flick
And again, we see Mary. She’s different somehow
No longer afraid, she’s more confident now
She says, “I am the Lord’s; may this happen to me.”
Then the angel, at once, could no longer be seen.
We stand blinking, perplexed, trying to pick up the clues
Is the prophet’s prediction now coming true?
Could it be, we now wonder, that our wait is no more?
Isaiah’s words are fulfilled, as we’d heard them before?
The young woman foretold in the days from the past
Is this Mary, this one who was least of the last
And Jesus Christ, God with us, this boy Immanuel
Will come down to earth to proclaim, “All is Well!”
Here is what’s powerful to hear every Christmas:
It’s not just that God came, but how God comes to us
God came through some people, just like you and like me
Not special-brand people, just from good family trees
When God’s Love Became Real in a most holy birth
God chose plain, simple folks, the most common on earth
So it shows that when God does extraordinary deeds
God prefers to use folks just like you and like me
You don’t need special training, or a call to the cloth
You don’t need to use words like “Thus sayeth” and “Doth”
All God wants from you now is a true, open heart
To say yes to the Lord when God gives you your part
In a tension-filled world that is battered and bruised
In a time when deep anger and resentment are fused
When we wonder how God might come redeem us again
When we wonder how God might come save us from sin
There is only one answer, from the Bible we’ve heard
That we’re Joseph and Mary and we can bear God’s Word
Will you choose today to say yes to God’s call?
To say yes to the one who was born in a stall?
Will you not wait to have it all start to make sense
And like Mary declare to God obedience?
The world needs Christ today, and to that there’s no doubt
The Christ that’s within you, you must boldly give out.
In the name of our God who created the heavens,
And redeems us, sustains us, we all say, Amen.