The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Pastor George Pejakovich
Luke 1:26-38

SHE WAS A YOUNG GIRL; ONE WHO IN THESE DAYS WE WOULD THINK TOO YOUNG TO BE ENGAGED, BUT SHE WAS BOUND BY THE CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS OF HER TIME. THE COMMON AGE FOR GIRLS TO BE ENGAGED WAS AROUND THIRTEEN. HER ENGAGEMENT WAS ARRAGNED BY HER FATHER AND HER INTENDED’S FATHER, OR BY THE MAN HIMSELF IF HE WAS OLDER. THE ONLY CHOICE SHE HAD WAS WHEN HE, IN THE PRESENE OF HER FATHER, OFFERED HER A CUP OF WINE. IF SHE ACCEPTED IT SHE WAS ENGAGED, AND THE MEN WROTE OUT THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT WHICH ESTABLISHED THE PRICE HER FATHER WOULD BE PAID FOR HIS DAUGHTER. SHE NEVER SPOKE TO THE MAN SHE WOULD MARRY, AND WOULD NOT SEE HIM AGAIN UNTIL THE WEDDING. HER WHOLE LIFE WAS LIKE THAT, RESTRICTED BY CUSTOM, RULED BY TRADITON, AND THE UNCHANGING LIFE OF A SMALL AND UNIMPORTANT VILLAGE. THE PLACE WAS SO POOR THAT MOST PEOPLE LIVED IN CAVE HOMES DUG OUT OF THE SOFT SANDSTONE OF THE HILLSIDE. SHE DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL, AND THE ONLY PLACE SHE WENT WAS TO THE VILLAGE WELL TO DRAW WATER FOR HER MOTHER TO BAKE THE DAILY BREAD.

SHE WAS IN HER ROOM IN THE FAMILY CAVE, PROBABLY WORKING ON SEWING HER OWN CLOTHES BY THE FLICKERING LIGHT OF AN OIL LAMP WHEN, SUDDENLY, HE WAS THERE. GABRIEL, THE MESSANGER OF GOD, FILLING HER TINY ROOM WITH HIS PRESENCE, TRAILING THE REFLECTED LIGHT OF GOD LIKE GREAT WINGS AROUND HIM. TO THIS YOUNG GIRL, HE WHO STANDS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE MOST HIGH, SAID, “HAIL, O FAVORED ONE! THE LORD IS WITH YOU. BLESSED ARE YOU AMOUNG WOMEN.” SHE WAS CONFUSED AND PERPLEXED BY THIS GREETING, WONDERING WHAT IT MEANT AND WHY SHE WAS FAVORED BY GOD, BECAUSE SHE WAS NO ONE SPECIAL, JUST A YOUNG GIRL FROM A SMALL VILLAGE. WHAT COULD SHE HAVE DONE TO BE FAVORED BY GOD? THE FAVOR OF GOD IS NEVER EARNED, IT CAN NOT BE EARNED, BUT COMES AS THE GRACIOUS GIFT OF THE LOVING FATHER.
“DO NOT BE AFRAID, MARY, “THE ANGEL SAID, “FOR YOU HAVE FOUND FAVOR WITH GOD.” THEN, THE ANGEL ADDED TO HER CONFUSION WHEN HE SAID THAT SHE WOULD CONCEIVE AND BEAR A SON, AND THAT SHE WOULD NAME HIM JESUS: YESHUA, WHICH MEANS YAWHEW SAVES, OR THE SALVATION OF GOD. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT HER CHILD WOULD BE CALLED THE SON OF THE MOST HIGH, AND GOD WILL GIVE HIM THE THRONE OF DAVID, HE WILL RULE OVER THE HOUSE OF JACOB FOREVER, AND HIS KINGDOM WILL HAVE NO END.

SHE WAS A YOUNG GIRL WHO WAS INNOCENT, BUT NOT IGNORANT, AND SHE KNEW HOW BABIES WERE MADE, SO SHE ASKED, “HOW CAN THIS BE, SINCE I HAVE NOT KNOWN A MAN?” THEN THE ANGEL TOLD HER THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD COME UPON HER, THE POWER OF THE MOST HIGH, AND HER CHILD WOULD BE HOLY, AND WOULD BE CALLED THE SON OF GOD. IN THE ANOUNCEMENT OF THE ANGEL WE SEE THE FULNESS OF GOD IN ACTION; THE LOVING GRACE OF THE FATHER, THE LIFE GIVING HOLY SPIRIT, AND THE INCARNATION OF GOD HIMSELF IN HIS SON TO BE BORN FROM THE WOMB OF THIS YOUNG GIRL. IF SHE NEEDED PROOF OF WHAT WAS TO HAPPEN, HE TOLD HER THAT HER RELATIVE, ELIZABETH WAS PREGNANT IN HER OLD AGE, AND SHE WILL BEAR A SON. THIS MAY HAVE BEEN HARD FOR HER TO BELIEVE, SO HE ADDED, “FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.” THEN, HE WAITED FOR HER ANSWER.

I DON’T KNOW IF ANGELS BREATHE, BUT, IF SO, HE MUST HAVE HELD HIS BREATH WAITING FOR HER RESPONSE, AND I IMAGINE A GREAT STILLNESS IN ALL OF HEAVEN WAITING FOR WHAT MARY WOULD SAY. WHAT MUST HAVE GONE THROUGH HER MIND? IF SHE BECAME PREGNANT BEFORE MARRIAGE SHE COULD BE REJECTED BY HER INTENDED. SHE COULD BE CAST OUT OF HER FAMILY. SHE COULD EVEN BE STONED TO DEATH AS AN ADULTRESS. THE WHOLE WORLD AND ALL OF ETERNITY HUNG ON THE RESPONSE OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM AN ORDINARY LITTLE TOWN WHO HAD NEVER DONE ANYTHING OF NOTE IN HER LIFE. WOULD SHE DO THE WILL OF GOD, OR THINK ONLY OF HERSELF?

MOST OF US LEAD ORDINARY LIVES, AND I CAN’T THINK OF A MORE ORDINARY TOWN THAN WHERE WE LIVE. YET EACH DAY WE ARE MET WITH CHOICES AS TO WHETHER WE WILL DO THE WILL OF GOD, OR THINK ONLY OF OURSELVES. WE WHO ARE HERE HAVE RECEIVED THE UNEARNED FAVOR OF THE MOST HIGH, AND HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE AMAZING GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD IN OUR LIVES THROUGH THE SON OF GOD, IMMANUEL, WHO IS WITH US NOW AND FOREVER. THAT SPIRIT LEADS US TO THINK AND ACT IN WAYS THAT ARE APART FROM OUR OWN NEEDS AND CONCERNES AND OUR WILL, BUT ALWAYS FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS WHICH IS GOD’S WILL. TO PLACE OTHERS NEEDS BEFORE OUR OWN IS THE WILL OF GOD, AND HE HAS TOLD US CLEARLY HOW TO DO THAT. WE MUST FEED THE HUNGRY, CLOTHE THE NAKED, HEAL THE SICK, VISIT THOSE IN PRISON WHETHER IN BODY OR IN MIND, PROVIDE FOR THE WIDOW AND ORPHAN, COMFORT THE AFFLICTED, FORGIVE THOSE WHO HURT OR OFFEND US, AND SPREAD THE LOVE OF GOD TO ALL BY WORDS AND IN DEEDS. NOT MANY OF US WILL BE CALLED TO DO ANYTHING OF NOTE OR GREATNESS, YET IN THE APPARENTLY SMALL ACTS OF ORDINANY LIVING, WE LIVE OUT THE WILL OF OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, AND SO REPAY THE LOVE HE HAS SHOWN US IN HIS FAVOR TOWARDS US.

THEN MARY SAID, “HERE AM I, THE SERVANT OF THE LORD; LET IT BE WITH ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD.” WITH HER ANSWER, THE ANGEL DEPARTED FROM HER, AND ALL HEAVEN MUST HAVE REJOICED, ANGELS, ARCHANGELS, POWERS, DOMINIONS, THRONES, SERAPHIN AND CHERUBIM, BECAUSE MARY, THIS YOUNG GIRL FROM AN ORDINARY TOWN WITH AN ORDINARY LIFE SAID, “YES,” TO THE WILL OF GOD.