Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit… [Elizabeth said] “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy!” – Luke 1:39-45
This weekend was wet, cold, wintry, and uninviting – rainy with a high in the low 40’s. At the same time Sunday was welcoming, hopeful, inspirational, and encouraging – a warm invitation and a c lose embrace. That is the difference church makes.
Not surprisingly, even after 40 years of preaching Advent and Christmas messages, Rebekah looked through her old sermons and found nothing remotely applicable to December 2020. This is, as we know, a unique moment in history. Fortunately, God’s word – truth and promise that echoes through the ages – is always fresh, always new, always cogent, always – and this is important – timely. What transpired was one of the most helpful Christmas messages you will hear anywhere this year.
Sunday’s message “Almost Here” (sermon begins at 21-minute mark)
The scripture reading came from Luke 1, the account of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, who was already well into her pregnancy. Mary had just found out she was expecting Jesus.
The best part of this story is when unborn baby John starts turning somersaults because – in a sense – his “Prepare the Way” job has already started. He recognizes the presence of God in Mary.
It has to be about Jesus (or it’s not really Christmas):
This is why Christmas has to be about Jesus and it has to be experienced in the context of faith. Advent is about preparing the way; Christmas Eve is about welcoming the birth of Jesus; Christmas – and everything that follows – is about entering into the story and living the Good News we have received.
This is it, this is the take-away from today: John, as yet unborn, recognized the presence of God in Mary. Where do we see the presence of God today? And, more importantly, how can we live so that this broken world may see the presence of God in us and say with the shepherds, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened! [We too would worship the newborn king]…”
In love, and because love is at work this Christmas – DEREK