St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

Mary

Psalm 89:1-4 | Luke 1:26-38
Did she have any idea just what she was letting herself in for?

Mary is one of the most fascinating figures in the nativity story, at least in part because we know so little about her. As with so many women in the Bible who must have had a profound influence on events, her part is mentioned almost in passing. Matthew barely even mentions her, Mark and John don’t bother with a nativity story at all, and even Luke, the most radical of the gospel writers in his inclusion of women just gives us the Magnificat that we read last week, and this little exchange with Gabriel.

Yet even those two little snippets give us insight into a remarkable woman.

But I wonder again, did she know what she was letting herself in for? Surely not. The angel greeted her as one who has found favour with God – surely Mary did not realise that that favour would mean a long journey while pregnant, a baby born far from home, a flight to Egypt. Nor, surely, that it would mean her first born child would leave home and village to become a wandering preacher, or that he would be taken from her and killed.

No, all of that was an unknown and unrevealed future. Continue reading

Year of the Lord’s Favour

Isaiah 61:1-4 | Luke 1:46-55A couple of Sundays ago, the first Sunday of advent, we talked about waiting; about how the history of the people of God seems to have featured a great deal of waiting for some promise that God had made.

And of course, advent is traditionally a time of waiting. But perhaps we might take a step back and ask – waiting for what?

Our reading from Isaiah today is one we often hear at Christmas. It’s perhaps best known because it is the passage that Jesus read in Nazareth, on the Sabbath, in the Synagogue, near the start of his ministry. If you remember that story, from Luke Chapter 4, you’ll recall that Jesus read the opening words of Isaiah 61, and then declared “today this scripture has been fulfilled”, claiming it for himself and for the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. That’s got to be good, right? Continue reading

Christmas – a story for children

The Christmas story is a great story for telling with kids. It’s got all the elements – a baby, animals, mysterious visitors from afar, long journeys, signs in the sky, supernatural beings – the lot.

And of course, it’s all tied in with all the excitement of Christmas as well – school holidays, summer, travelling, visiting relatives, eating loads of food we normally aren’t allowed. And, of course, presents.

The Christmas story is a great story for kids. I love to tell it, you can have so much fun.

The problem comes if we think that’s all it is. If we keep on hearing the Christmas story the way we heard it as children. If we never go beyond the surface elements, never look past the manger and angels, cows, sheep, angels and donkeys. Because the Christmas story is a great story to tell to kids – but it’s also a very grown up story. A story which touches a lot more of life than you might notice at first glance. Continue reading