Series: Coming Home
Sermon: God Makes This World a Home
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
December 24, 2017
Scriptures: Luke 1:46-55
††††††††† God makes this world a home. It probably isnít Godís only home, but we have experienced Godís presence here so we are certain that God inhabits this part of creation as well as any other God may choose. Of course, there are detractors that would tell us otherwise. Our mistake would be to believe them.
††††††††† Mary knew. Elizabeth knew. After nine months Zechariah could speak the truth. God dwells among us and in us. Oh, that we would believe it and let Godís Spirit change us, too, but saying yes to God isnít always easy. What will God ask of us? The thought of giving up our comfort, leisure, and first-world privileged status can be scary. Just the thought of bearing Godís child had to have been frightening. But Mary willingly said yes, let it be with me as you have said. Let it be the way you need it to be, Lord, not for my own convenience, but whatever you need to bring about your order, your leadership, your kingdom-making on planet earth.
††††††††† Mary reminds us that Godís mercy, compassion and love rests in all those who ďfear himĒ, which doesnít mean what we think it does when you and I think ďfearĒ. Instead, think awe and wonder, think reverence and amazement, think devotion and mind-blowing joy. Godís mercy is for those who worship God, from generation to generation.
††††††††† This weekend, this night, is an opportunity not to be missed. We have the chance to share our faith with our children and grandchildren. We have the chance to show them what it looks like to be in awe of God as we worship the incarnation of God here on earth in Bethlehem not so very long ago, if we consider a thousand years to be a blink of Godís eye.
††††††††† It saddens to think of so many families coming together and making food and presents the highlight of the season. It saddens to think of how quiet many of us are about our faith, missing the chance to tell those we love the most how important faith is and what God has done in our lives. I confess that I have shared more with total strangers about my calling from God than I have with my grandchildren who live far away. This is something that needs to be rectified!
††††††††† Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth, affirmed and supported one another throughout their experiences of unusual pregnancies. Who might you call upon to bolster your courage as you let God do a new thing in your life? Who has been an advocate in the faith for you? Or, who is it that God may be nudging you to encourage in the faith?
††††††††† Mary calls us to be change agents for a better world for all, reversing the fortunes of those at the bottom, showing them that there IS hope. Mary models for us what it looks like to let God dwell within us, shaping our lives to give witness to Godís love and grace.
††††††††† I donít really expect all my grandchildren to be able to fully comprehend my story of Godís persistent call. But I hope that if I tell them of my experience, then it may be a memory they have and a frame of reference for them when God knocks on the door of their heart and says, ďThis is good, all that youíve been studying and doing, but I have something else Iíd like you to do.Ē All the lessons that youíve learned so far will not be lost. In fact, they have been preparation for what is to come.
God reminds me, ďDo you remember how you, the introvert, never liked talking on the phone and hated calling people you donít know well? And do you remember the phone campaign you later made to the parents of kids who had signed up to play stringed instruments in the fall, introducing yourself and inviting them to an informational meeting and how successful that was? That was all preparation for the cold-call I would want you to make a decade later, inviting the director of Kidís Food Basket to establish their Muskegon location in the basement of your church, so hungry children from poor families could be nourished.Ē
God uses our weaknesses to display Godís strength. Truth be told, I still have to screw up my courage to call people I donít know well. But for Godís purposes God gives us the strength we need to do what needs doing. Elizabeth was right. With God, all things are possible.
Mary will be right, when all is said and done. God will scatter the proud as God shows great strength in changing the order of this world. Those of low estate, low status will be lifted up. The hungry will be filled with good things and the rich will be sent away, empty. Empty because of their short-sightedness. Empty because of greed. Empty because of self-centeredness.
What we must recognize is that you donít have to be rich to be greedy, self-centered or short-sighted. And not all those who are rich are necessarily greedy or self-centered. To be rich in Godís kingdom is to have all the love, peace, joy and hope that is needed to share with the world around us, changing the fortunes of all for the better as we love the Lord, and love one another.
It brings joy to my heart as I watch faithful members of this congregation at work, volunteering in our community, feeding hungry people, providing clothing and shelter to those in need, giving scholarships to students so they can study and become well educated professionals that will change the world. Pregnant mothers and fathers are given guidance and education on how to raise healthy children. Diapers, clothing and food for babies are distributed. Schools are enriched by generous teachers and benefactors who supply what is needed for children to learn and grow. And you do it tirelessly, anonymously, and God says, well done!
God makes this world a home, inhabiting space in our lives when we open the door. God shapes us to be the game-changers God needs us to be. Thanks be to God for the joy we feel as we serve God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength. Amen.