Two questions we all face

Luke 1:26-38

12 Mary.jpg

 She was just 13 or 14 years old and tradition says that she was gathering water at the well near town. An angel appeared to her and told her something wonderful was going to happen. The text says that it scared her and that she was troubled. How about you? What if God sent an angel who would talk to you as you got out of your car tonight? How would you feel? How you handle it all is a matter of faith and trust. It is one of the reasons that we admire Mary. God can have great plans, but He often uses people to make the plans work.

My first question if approached like Mary would be “Is it worth it?” What God was asking of Mary was going to be difficult. People would think of her as an unwed mother and sinner. She would bear their ridicule and scorn. She was taking on a great task from God himself to raise the “Son of the most high”. It would not be an easy task. We often voice our questions. We are afraid when someone asks us to teach Sunday school or to be on the church council. Too often we can make a list of excuses about everything under the sun. Something is not the way that we want it. We look at the bother that it will cause in our life. We just wonder if it is going to be worth all the bother or if we will work hard and have no results. Really, is it worth it?

My second question reflects Mary’s one question “How can this be?” While she is asking with faith for instructions on how God can do this, I often wonder if it can be done. I applaud Mary for asking details so that she can be a part of the miracle. She is asking logistical questions as she commits herself to being part of a miracle. When God lays the big task out for us, our natural question is how? Can God really do what He was saying? In our mind, we know that God can do all things. We know in our mind that he can, but will he? We don’t want to be left holding the bag. We don’t want to put all that effort in it and have nothing happen. The challenge for me is to trust God like Mary does.

It all comes down to trust. Mary was God’s servant and was ready to do the impossible. I wonder how much she really understood what was going to happen and how much was pure faith.  I often find that when God calls us to do something, He often doesn’t give us the full answer about what will happen or how. He just sketches things out and tells us that the details will come later. Trust me! Saying yes is more about believing in God than it is accepting that things can be done. Through the miracle, our faith will grow and we will be able to say yes to other things God proposes. The two questions will never truly be answered. The only question we have to wrestle with is whether we believe God can do the miracle He is asking us to be part of.

Could you give a reason for your hope?

Focus: Luke 2:21-35

I recently saw an article about how our world wants Christians to be silent. They will grudgingly allow you to have your Christian beliefs, but don’t share them and don’t inconvenience them with those beliefs because they have the right to be non-Christian. It begs the question for all of us about how comfortable we are with speaking or living our faith. Most Christians are silent. They are careful not to offend people with their views. They will participate in a Sunday activity event even if it means missing church or do something shady in business. Yet what is the cost of keeping silent about our savior? What does Jesus really mean to you and to your future? Today, we will look at a man who could not keep silent. As he holds the baby Jesus in his arms, the whole world must know the reason for his hope and faith.

Simeon knows the reason for hope and so should we. For 400 years, the people of Israel have been waiting for God to act on their behalf. During that time, they have been overrun by Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. They have had to fight to keep their faith in a world where Zeus is king. Now God has acted and there is hope. God has not forgotten them. The child is that hope for he is the messiah that has been promised from the beginning of time. Simeon holds God’s answer to all the problems that they face as people. It is a day of hope realized and hope gained.

What is your hope? In our country, I think hope is often about technology and money. If we have enough gadgets or if we get smarter we can conquer all the woes of the world. If we have enough money saved, we can live comfortably and retire with a life of ease. Yet, we look for hope in all the wrong places. With all our technology we cannot stop the war or world hunger. With all our money, we cannot make a better place. The reason is that none of that changes the hearts of men. We just have bigger bombs and more greed.

Can you give the reason for your hope? Simeon had no trouble giving the reason for his hope. Jesus was the hope of Israel, the salvation of Israel and the light of the world. He was the answer to man’s need and the only way of hope and salvation. It was what he had been waiting for and he proclaimed it loudly. Could we tell people why our faith is in Jesus? If a microphone was given to you to tell the people around you what you believe about Jesus, could you tell them? Maybe, the question is would you tell them even if you know?

There are a lot of people out there who want to know why you are a Christian and why you believe the things that you do. They are tired of the false hope and salvation that the world has to offer. It hasn’t worked and they are looking for something different. Hold the child in your arms and give them your response. You don’t have to picket or change the laws. Just tell people what you know and believe about the child. Invite them to worship or to Sunday school or small group. Stop being a silent Christian and give people a reason for your hope. Amen.