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Sunday Sermon for 19 December 2021: “Magnificent Mary”

Joyous love feeds the soul this fourth Advent Sunday. Mary had been visited by an angel, who foretold Jesus’ birth. Today’s message focuses on Mary’s visit with her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. The unborn John responded to Mary’s words by leaping in Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41).

Mary’s situation is notable during the Christmas season because of the messianic promise fulfilled through Jesus. Mary’s divine commission prompted her to celebrate: “ ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . .’ “ (Luke 1:46b).

Whenever there is praise in scripture, you are invited to share it. God wants each person to feel and enthusiastically respond to Jesus. Sometimes expressing such joy is difficult, especially when you encounter uncertainty and resistance. Yet God can strengthen your character as your joy remains steadfast despite challenging circumstances.

When God unveils a promise it can seem mysterious, perhaps even overwhelming. In such situations it is tempting to withdraw into doubt and negativity. Recall that Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was pregnant in her advanced age. From a worldly perspective Elizabeth might have doubted her ability to conceive John the Baptist. Yet when things seem impossible God may surprise us.

Staying positive and even praising God can help conquer seemingly impossible situations. Your challenge is to surmount barriers and celebrate even when life doesn’t go well. You are invited to be filled with hope, such that you can express enthusiasm as you focus on God’s mercy and grace. It’s no accident that people who experience God’s presence often report higher life satisfaction.

Grasp the wonder of God’s promises as you reflect on this holiday season. When you recall Jesus’ birth you can also consider how God invites you to a spiritual rebirth. The key is spiritual regeneration, the point at which a new mode of your existence begins. On the one hand, Christians celebrate the arrival of the baby Jesus in that ancient manger over two-thousand years ago. On the other hand, people of faith can celebrate God’s presence in the here-and-now. In both ways God’s spirit moves you forward.

What are you thankful for? Consider the joy of your relationship with the divine, of how your faith is forging a beautiful connection with God. It doesn’t matter who you are, how young or old, or how sick or well you feel. God can partner with you to transcend whatever is holding you back. Your redemption means that you are rescued from an unfulfilling life. You are set free to receive and share God’s love. As with Mary, your joy overflows when you are open to God.

Perhaps you don’t feel joy as often as you’d like. Rest-assured that it’s not too late for you to experience transformative blessings. You’re not alone if doubt and apathy interfere. Rather than respond to situations with fear, ignorance and anger, God invites you to choose a path of joyous love. Embracing God’s spirit will help transport you to a better place, overcoming destructive emotions. Love-empowered joy helps you overcome hurdles and obstacles.

Allow God to energize your life and generate life wellbeing from within. Praise God for all your superb blessings. Realize that God is still working miracles in peoples’ hearts and minds (including yours!). Raise your voice in joyful proclamation. Love reigns supreme and you are a spiritual child of the Almighty    –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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