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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Focus: Called to Greatness

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.  Luke 1:26-38

How many girls do you know who have been painted and sculpted by DaVinci and Michelangelo…who’ve been serenaded by Bach and Schubert, Verdi and Puccini…who’ve been praised by Aquinas and Augustine and venerated in a constant stream of devotions? Or more to the point, can we ever hope to know anyone after they have been so endlessly exalted? This Sunday let’s try. And let’s see what we can learn from Christ’s earliest and closest companion.

In the first chapter of Luke, we meet Mary before all that, long before she becomes swathed in centuries of sentimentality. We meet her as a kid…a very, very good kid … but only a kid. She’s scared. She’s stunned. But she is not overwhelmed. This is her first encounter with an angel. But it is obviously not her first encounter with God. He is not an abstraction to her. He is a constant presence in her life. Even as a teen, she defines herself as God’s servant. Rick Warren would say: She has a purpose driven life. She is here to serve God. She embraces it. Even if that means being the mother of the Messiah, let it be with me according to your word.

Scripture gives us this beautiful portrait of a Mary in the moment, not of the myth. In the most mind-boggling circumstances, she stands her ground, momentarily confused by the message and the messenger, but confident in the goodness of God, giving herself reflexively to his service. For all our maturity, how many of us have such a clear grasp of life’s ultimate reality? We are here to serve God. That is our own personal call to greatness. Not from angels, but constantly from God’s grace.

We get to answer that call everyday in countless ways --- in our respect for others, in our kindness, in our generosity, in our forgiveness, in our family responsibilities, in our professional ethics, in our fearless, unrelenting witness to Christ’s love. Doubtless, none of us will be sculpted or painted by masters. Choirs will not sing our praises. But God will. He rejoices in the goodness we give back to him. He knows the obstacles we must overcome. He knows the sea of secular cynicism that surrounds us. He knows we can be confused and distracted. That is why scripture gives us the wisdom of Mary, the kid who was surprised but then quickly focused, the kid who knew she was God’s servant and knew that God would see her through. I pray that we may share that same serenity and join Mary in her joyous song: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.  


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