Sermon Preparation -
December 19, 1999
One month [after Elizabeth rejoiced in her pregnancy] God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. The angel greeted Mary and said, "You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you."
Mary was confused by the angel's words and wondered what they meant. Then the angel told Mary, "Don't be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end."
Mary asked the angel, "How can this happen? I am not married!"
The angel answerd, "The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God's power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. Nothing is impossible for God!"
Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant! Let it happen as you have said." And the angel left her. [CEV]
1. Truly you are blessed!
Is this true for you? What will it take for you to acknowledge that you are already blessed? This is another way of asking the question of idolatry, what is holding you back from recognizing your blessedness? Are you measuring things by a particular relationship, by a certain amount of money, by a desired job, by . . . ?
In Mary's case it seemed to be the state of marriage. But, lo and behold, she was blessed without marriage and with child. This is blessedness? Yes, it can be. Can you catch a glimpse of how you might be surprised by blessedness?
2. Does knowing that someone else has been blessed in a similar fashion help? Who do you know that has been blessed? If your answer is, "no one," it is time to widen your circle. Diligently search for someone who has been blessed and spend some time with them. It will encourage you to accept your own blessedness.
3. Having finally come to the point of recognizing you are blessed, what are you going to do with it? Mary says, "I'll deal with it." This is important because a simple expectation of blessedness is that everything will work out just the way I want it to. In Mary's life and in real life and in Jesus Sermon on the Mount, blessedness entails some contrary issue, some difficulty that deepens the blessedness as it is treasured in one's heart and lived through. In dealing with the downside of blessedness (pregnant and unmarried when this could mean death by stoning) the sense of blessedness both gets one through and encourages others to find their own blessedness.
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