Posts Tagged Mary

John 12.1-8. “The Price of Worship” 20160313


imageSix days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” [NRSV]

I recall visiting sanctuaries through out Europe, some hundreds of years and wonder on one hand did Jesus imagine the ornate gilded cathedrals would become witnesses of his body and presence in the world. On the other hand, having walk through those ornate and gilded cathedrals and having join in the presence of worship that was older than my prayers and praises the allow us to experience the glories of a presence that is beyond our imagination and beyond our wealth and beyond our interpretation.

Somewhere in the combination of faithful stewardship and extravagant generosity we find the sincerity and and passion of worship.

There are times for simple and there are time for excess
The Garden of Eden reflects a sips relationship, one love and one rule, one trust and the consequences one transgression/choice.

Think of worship in the home of Mary and Martha. Recall Martha is the practical, hard working, thrifty with time and extravagant with comfort and dependable order. Mary is willing to throw caution aside! She is willing to leaving the house messy for a time, eat brunch for dinner, and invite too many guests to the party.

Mary take an extraordinary gift worth a years wage and gives the entire jar to cover Jesus. One pure of nard retailed for $700. Not a dab with the lid behind the ear r on ones wrist. She covers Jesus’s feet. Nard is viscous, acidic and concentrated scent similar to gardenia. It would have filled the house

Today we come to a historical day in the life of the church that is a mar rage of extravagant generosity AND a practical challenge. The big news is about t be revealed and it is a unique and exciting opportunity that draws on both our Mary and Martha sides.

The waste is not in using our gifts, the waste would be not to give.

Give extravagantly.

Love passionately.

Life in the Joy of Chrost with us.

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Luke 1:39-45, “A Visit to Aunt Elizabeth’s” JUMC 20121223


1:39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” [NRSV} (46-55) 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

The Family Connection Mary receives some incredible news concerning her life and faith.

1. God is pleased with her faith and willingness to be part of the grand work.

2. Mary become pregnant as a unwed, teenage

3. Mary is almost cast out by her fiancée and family Her response is to go visit the one person in her extended family who would welcome her with unconditional love and patience.

This is the first and greatest gift of Christmas.

If there is one person you can love and entrust yourself with without limit or condition, you can experience the power of Christ and Christmas every day. Period.

If you have that person you can turn to that may not give you everything you want but will love and listen and welcome you no matter what mess you may find, then you have THE treasure of God’s love.

If you don’t, the best way to find this love is to show this kind of love.

Mary, in her confusion, excitement, fear and celebration runs to aunt Elizabeth’s house.

In the Family Way

Mary travels to the home of Uncle Zachariah, who is mute until the birth of his son, John, who would become the baptizer of many and the messenger of the Lord calling for repentance and the preparing of our hearts of the coming of God’s own. He is unable to speak because he talked too much about what he did not know.

Do you know someone like that? They are the expert on the ball game, the shopping deals or the politics and they don’t know when to stop talking and just listen.

Sometimes our Christmas gifts are what we need and not what we want. This economy and it’s strain upon our incomes and lives should be a wake up call to our materialism. We don’t need nearly as much as the commercials and advertisements tell us what we need.

Sometimes not having what we want is thrust upon us. Just as Zach could not speak, he could spend more time hearing. If we spent the resources and time of Christmas shopping on worshiping and serving Christ, we might begin to appreciate what Zack learns through his time out… God’s family is larger than he ever dreamed and God could do much more wonderful and miraculous than Zachariah could imagine.

Is there someone you could give the gift of silence to this year?

They could open up a box of quiet that took a whole day or weekend to experience.

Is there someone you could give the gift of boldness to this year?

Someone who is always quiet and in the background and they could speak freely and with all confidence.

What if these two gifts were exchanged in our homes and families?

Parent’s listened to children and children listened to parents? What is the Parents would be strong and the children child-like. What if the boss would serve and the servant take the responsibility of leading.

Shepherd hearing the first words of the King of kings? That kind of insider news would be for the inner circle and the privileged? Wise men of other cultures and traditions being shown a guiding star follow what the learned scholars and teachers had studies for a millennium?

What is the news You need to hear? What are the signs you need to pay attention to see and follow. Who are the families that need to hear the Good News and see it in acted and lived out right now?

Christmas is about the Larger Family too

Through out most every Christmas movie and show this pre-Christmas season talks about Christmas being for the children and for the family. We need to do a little bit of correction:

This pre-season of Christmas is a time for families and children to be making ready for Jesus Christ. If Santa Claus can be a helpful figure to show us selfless giving and generosity to a world that has a need for joy, then that bring all the help that Santa can bring.

Mary visit’s her aunt and when she walks in the door of the house, Elizabeth’s child becomes excited. The sign that what is going on in one person’s life is connected to each other’s live. Mary had her own agenda for visiting her aunt and uncle. God had another. Zack had other dreams and plans, and so did Elizabeth about having a child in her retirement years. Bottom line: God is at work through us all.

Continuing to do the impossible even now: Giving us messengers of hope, promise and accountability. You and I are in this story, in our hearing the words and gathering to worship today.

Where will we go with the Good News today?

What will be say God can or cannot do this year?

What will be brought to life when you say yes to God’s call in your life?

What will be shut off and not possible, when you doubt, refuse or not follow?? That is the dangerous Question

Merry CRISTmas and Happy HOLYdays to you.

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Luke 1:26-38 “CHRISTMAS: IMPOSSIBLE” JUMC 20111218

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. NRSV

Our family is a big fan of Robert Irvine’s television shows: Dinner Impossible and Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network. This summer, Frances had the opportunity to help prepare her own dessert in Robert’s kitchen at his restaurant, EATS, on Hilton head Island, SC. Both his shows put Chef Robert into what appears to be an impossible situation with limited resources and limited time to feed hundreds or even thousands of people four star meals in some of the worst or unbelievable conditions. He may find himself, “in the weeds” and at the deadline, but every time he pulls through to feed fabulous food that is amazing.

The real amazing thing that I found out about Chef Robert is that he made time to sit down and eat dinner with us for about 45 minutes and as big a TV celebrity that he is introduced me to his pastor and invited me to his men’s prayer breakfast the next morning. As big as his television personality is on air, his real life spirit is a great witness of extravagant generosity and radical hospitality, two of our fruits we seek to share as a church family.

In our text today, Mary, the fiancée of Joseph, and expecting mother of Jesus, is given a MOST Extravagant gift in caring the incarnation of God and serving as mother. If that is not the MOST Radical hospitality I don’t know what is! It is Mary’s charge to carry Jesus within her own body and make room in her plans and expectations of life… yielding to God’s work through her.

The remarkable thing about this passage is that Mary is only perplexed by the angels message. In my experience as a pastor and Christian the people who have had unique divine experiences: Angels, voices, lights, and signs they try sharing them with a few folks who are not anymore ready to hear or believe and then they stop telling the story of their faith event. My own call to ministry became most clear in the context of worship, during a sermon, through a brightly shining 100 watt light bulb, connected to a bare wire hanging from a crepe myrtle tree.. I saw the glory of God shine and hear the voice of God sending me home to tell what I had seen, heard, and shared… not just in the moment of that story but in the context of the community of faith/church I had experience that summer.

We have to be careful getting into the mind of Mary. I would guess she had a mixture of faith and fear, worry and wonder, surprise and service.. and a thousand other emotions and experiences. But what she does becomes an example for each of us.

In the times since that event of the light in the tree there have been many conversations, worship services, retreats, songs, hymns and anthems, hospital room, classrooms and meeting room Christ shine out and speaks up to make may faith more bold. Showing me hope when I had none.

Mary hears God’s call to use her life, shape her family, and changing her plans and defining her family all as her service to God.

Each member of your household has the ability to help determine your part of family life.
Q: “Hey, Why is this a Christmas story, except for it mentioning Mary?”
A: “It’s an Advent passage because it directs us to what WE in preparation for Christ in our lives.”

Who is getting Ready for Christ?
If you measure that readiness in church attendance there are some new numbers out about Christian worship. The Barna Group has identified of those responding as Christians
▪ Unattached – not attended during the past year. (23%)
▪ Intermittents – not during the past month. (15%). At least 1 church event at sometime in past 6 months.
▪ Homebodies – people who had not attended a conventional church during the past month, but had attended a meeting of a house church (3%).
▪ Blenders – adults experimenting with new forms of faith community. (3%).
Conventionals – adults attended in the past month (56%)

23% not during the past year
15% not during the past month
6% not in a traditional church
56% in church but only once in the past month..

To compare that statistic to our regular attendance we would be only at about 52%

Q: “What does that have to with Mary or Christmas?”
A: “Mary’s burden of becoming Jesus’ mom, seem impossible. The mystery of the virgin birth, the great expectation of the task, the great sorrows that will follow. Together these make for what is an impossibility.”

What makes something impossible?
When you have no options for movement nor change.
Stale mate or Check mate!

Actually it is matter of perspective…
something is impossible we see fore see no alternatives

The Difference in Mary and Joseph is a matter of perspective… faith perspective..

Q: “Where is Joseph?”
A: “While he reveals on one side a sense of kindness he also wants out. He offers to not make a big deal of ending the relationship. He wants to give up.

Men.. we need to hear Mary’s message, though we cannot relate her pregnancy, we can to her willingness to allow God to shape our families.

▪ he typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.
▪ On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.
▪ This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
▪ Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.
▪ The majority of church employees are women (except for ordained clergy, who are overwhelmingly male).
▪ Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.
▪ More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.
▪ Churches overseas report gender gaps of up to 9 women for every adult man in attendance.
▪ Christian universities are becoming convents. The typical Christian college in the U.S. enrolls almost 2 women for every 1 man.
▪ Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.
Church is good for men:
Churchgoers are more likely to be married and express a higher level of satisfaction with life. Church involvement is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
Church involvement moves people out of poverty. Its also correlated with less depression, more self-esteem and greater family and marital happiness.
Religious participation leads men to become more engaged husbands and fathers.
Teens with religious fathers are more likely to say they enjoy spending time with dad and that they admire him.
Not picking on the men, but it is a message that MEN need to be willing to hear from MEN. Guys, Let your family hear you say: “Let’s go to church.”

Getting to the heart of the text: God says trust, Mary sees the impossible and say yes, use me.

What seems impossible this Christmas?
This fear, worry, grief, frustration, failure that steals our love, trust, hope or peace:

This just maybe God’s calling to trust and let God move through us.
This might be just the Christmas gift we can’t afford, and can’t afford to let slip.

Make Christmas: Christ With us.. possible. How? Try Gods way instead of your own.

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