Sermon: The Story of Mary

The Story of Mary
Luke 1:39-55
RUMC 20 Dec 2015

Bishop Wellington Boone of the Fellowship of International Churches had gained a new perspective on worship when he made a trip to Uganda, Africa.  What he had seen was Ugandan Christians, who walked long distances just to get to church.  They had done this under difficult conditions.  But as they sat on the dirt floor of the church in anticipation of worship, they began to chant “Boga, boga” which means “Serious, serious”.  What these Uganda Christians had believed was that the study of God’s word and worship was indeed serious business.

When Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel and was told that she was to be the mother of the Christ child, her life was literally thrown upside down.  Though she had received thrilling news, it was tempered with reality of the responsibility of properly raising the Christ child.  And at the same time of how she would deal with the effects of what might be considered a major scandal in her small town.

But it was only after Mary had traveled some 60 miles and had visited her cousin Elizabeth, did she receive comfort that everything would be okay.  It was then, Mary was able to relax and worship the Lord.

As modern day believers, I do see a similarity with our lives, that if we are troubled or concerned about certain things, we can use Mary as a model.

My text is Luke 1:39-55:

 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 

This is the word of God.  Thanks be to God.

To me, what stands out in this passage of scripture was Mary’s deep spirituality.  As a teen, she grew up in a simple one room mud stucco type of house.  It is believed there were at least 50 other houses in her tiny community, whereas there are 75,000 in Nazareth.

Though life was ordinary and simple compared to today, Mary did have responsibilities.  It was her job to grind the wheat and barley into flour and bake the bread.  Under the direction of her mother, she learned to spin wool and make clothes.  She fetched water from the well, and fed the animals.

But aside from her daily chores, her faith in the Lord was deep.  And it was through her parents that she was taught the basics of faith.  Even the synagogue where she attended had a profound effect on her spirituality.

And it was in that framework that Mary grew in her faith.  As she was able to worship, may we worship as well:

  • In Happy moments-   Praise God
  • In Difficult moments- Seek God
  • In Quiet Moments-    Worship God
  • In Painful Moments-  Trust God
  • In Every Moment-     Thank God

 “Worship gets you through the hardest times in your life because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.”

Fourteen year old Mary of Nazareth was able to worship in the way she did, because on her 4-day trip to visit her cousin she was able to meditate and pray.  When Mary arrived, she had her cousin to confide in and that enabled her to shift from the problem to the problem solver.

Again, I see this as a model for us.  If something troubles us, we should seek out someone who will listen, perhaps go for a long walk; maybe get away, listen to inspirational music and do those things that will help us focus our attention on God.

Once there was a man who had a dream where an angel appeared and escorted him to church on this one particular Sunday morning.  In his dream, he saw the organist play and the choir sing.  But he heard no sound.  The congregation also sang, but again there was no sound.  When the minister began to speak, his lips moved, but there was no sound.  In amazement, the man turned to the angel for an explanation.  The angel said “This is the way it sounds to us in heaven.  These people are engaged in the form of worship, but their thoughts are on other things and their hearts are far away.

Here at Rockville, we have many components in our one hour service, but there comes a point in our worship where we need to make that connection with God.  That moment might come when the choir sings or when we sing our favorite hymn.  For others it might be the children’s message.  For me, it is the doxology and the benediction.

Worship is like a good meal, where there are appetizers, the main course, beverages and dessert.  All these things make dining a wonderful experience.  It is the same with worship, the call to worship; the music, the prayers, and the word are connected to help us experience the Lord.

Let me sum this up.  May we in this Advent and Christmas season, truly worship the Lord.

In honor of Mary and who she was and what she did, I am attaching a link to the video of the song “Mary Did You Know.”  But first, here are the lyrics:

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.