Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Worthy Model of Faith

Pastor Brad greeted us with a warm "Good morning!" and reminded us that it is the third week of Advent, noting for us that the message this morning would center on lessons from the life of Mary, "a worthy model for us from start to finish."

Announcements included a reminder that the Christmas program would be at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon.

The Scripture reading came from Matthew 11:2-11. After a time of prayer and praise, Brad spoke to us about the many qualities that make Mary's life worth studying.

Our Worthy Model of Faith

Brad began with a few light-hearted jests about the differences between women and men. He then called Janzyn to the front of the church to show us how young Mary likely was when she first appears in the Scriptures. The typical age for marrying in that culture was 15-17 years old.

The message consisted of 15 features of Mary's character and personhood, each beginning with the letter C.

1) Child
In Luke 1:27 we read that Mary was a virgin pledged in marriage to a young man named Joseph. She was but a youth.

2) Called
Her calling was supernatural in origin. The angel Gabriel was sent to notify her that she was to conceive and give birth to a son who would be seated on the throne of David and reign forever.

3) Confused
Her response is presented in a straightforward manner. She was a virgin. This was beyond understanding.

4) Curious
Yet she asks, "How can this be?" The angel responds that it will be a supernatural experience.

5) Cooperative spirit
Her response is not to fight it, but to accept it, to go with it. "I am God's servant. Let it be as you have said."

6) Composes a song
This was her response on the path to a great adventure.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
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.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Luke 1:46-55

7) Creative
The story of the birth of Jesus shows much about the creative initiative Mary took to turn a stable for animals into a home for the King of kings.

8) Ceremonies
In Luke 2:39 we see that Mary is a conscientious mother who sees to it that all the ceremonies were fulfilled.

9) Contemplative
There were many unusual and significant events surrounding the birth of the Savior. Scripture says that Mary treasured these things in her heart and pondered them.

10) Concerned
It's the well known story of the family going up to Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus was twelve. He had become separated from his family and for three days Mary and Joseph searched for him. The story reveals the heart of a concerned mother.

11) Confidence
The story of the wedding in Cana where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle (John 2) shows Mary's confidence in what her son could accomplish.

12) Character
The incident in Luke 11:27-28 wherein a man from the crowd praised the mother who birthed such a wise son shows Mary's character. Jesus replied, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

13) Courage
Mary lived to see her son die, which is difficult for any mother. But especially painful was the manner in which he was put to death, with such brutality. Mary remained present to the very end, a courageous act.

14) Crushed
Seeing her son crucified had to have crushed Mary. Jesus even spoke to her from the cross.

15) Constant prayer
Acts 1:14 is the last time Mary is mentioned by name. Here we see that she is amongst the disciples, constant in prayer. Mary saw it all, from the beginning till the birth of the church at Pentecost.

It was here that Brad shared the reason for this message, a message for women. It is a great challenge to be a woman today. The culture puts so many unrealistic expectations on women that it is a form of crazy-making. You're not enough unless you are this or that.
The story of Mary offers three steps out of these entangling, confusing expectations. First, what are you called to? Having clarity about your call helps one to push aside all the distractions. Second, have courage to believe and to stand secure in your mission. Finally, be consistent and prayer. God has a plan for you. Without clarity about who you are, you become a sitting duck for every "should" that comes your way.

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