Sermon: How Can This Be?

At the heart of the Annunciation is the declaration that God isn’t here just in the extraordinary times. God isn’t here just when we need divine providence. God loves us, and calls us, right here, right now, right where we’re at in our ordinary, everyday lives.

L'_Annonciation, Philippe de Champaigne (1644)
L’_Annonciation, Philippe de Champaigne (1644)

Sermon: “How Can This Be?”

Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA, December 21, 2014; (Fourth Sunday in Advent).

Scripture Readings:
Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV) 

I’ve been considering Mary’s question in this morning’s reading from Luke, where Gabriel tells her that she will soon have a child, a son; that he’ll be a great King, and that he will sit on the throne of his ancestor, David.

Mary responds by asking “How can this be?

As Christians, this is a question we often ask ourselves, or perhaps others ask of us: How can this be?   It’s a question we ask about the birth of Christ, about why we believe, about why we find ourselves in various situations. And, as we read this passage in Luke, we see that a lot is wrapped up in this simple little question of Mary’s: How can a baby be born of a virgin?  Why is God doing this?  Why does it matter?

I begin by asking myself “what was Mary thinking when she asked this?”  What I do know is that the common assumption, that she’s wondering how a virgin can give birth, is not what she is perplexed about.

Continue reading “Sermon: How Can This Be?”

The God Who Trusts

Madonna and Child by Pompeo Batoni, ca 1742.
Madonna and Child by Pompeo Batoni, ca 1742.

This Christmas Eve, I thought it would be useful to share a simple thought: that God trusts us.

Orthodox Christianity is very explicit about this – God became incarnate and accessible to us through the birth of an infant human child.

Newborns can do nothing for themselves: they are vulnerable and rely totally upon those who love them for protection, for sustenance, and for life itself.

Jesus and the entire plan and hope represented by the Virgin Birth would never have come to fruition if his parents had not cared for him, fed him, educated him and loved him.  If they had failed to do so, nothing else would have saved him, or us.

So, God became vulnerable to us through the birth of Christ.  God trusted us to take care of the babe and so ensure the fulfillment of God’s plan.

In other words, God trusts humanity – for all its flaws and failings – to do the right thing, and to accomplish the mission.  Even more importantly, God believes that you are ultimately good – because a creature that is inherently evil would never be entrusted with God’s child.

Therefore, God knows you are lovable.  God values you.  God believes in you, and is willing to risk everything based on that belief.

God trusts you…

Have a Blessed Christmas.

… And as my fellow North Central College Alum, Bruce Nesmith, said in response to these thoughts: “Maybe in 2015 we can trust our best selves more.

Copyright (c) 2014, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)

How Can This Be?

Presented at West Boylston (MA) UCC Church, December 18, 2011.

Readings:
       2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
       Romans 16:25-27
       Luke 1:26-38

I’ve been considering Mary’s question in this morning’s reading from Luke. Gabriel tells Mary that she will soon have a child, a son; that he’ll be a great King, and that he will sit on the throne of his ancestor, David.  Mary then asks “How can this be?

As Christians, this is a question we often ask ourselves, or perhaps others ask of us: How can this be?   A lot is wrapped up in that simple little question: How can a baby be born of a virgin?  Why is God doing this?  Why does it matter?

I begin by asking myself “what was Mary thinking when she asked this?”  I’m not so sure the common assumption, that she’s wondering how a virgin can give birth, is what she is so perplexed about.

Continue reading “How Can This Be?”