Strength in Leadership on Christmas Eve
Psalm 89: 1-4 and 19-26
LUKE 1: 26-38

December 24, 2017 AM

There are only a few more miles to go. Two lonesome souls; their age difference is quite apparent and to the casual bystander it looks like the young woman must be bearing the child of the man whose loving eyes watch her as they take each step together. Mary and Joseph … Mary knew the truth … Joseph knew the truth. God’s blessing was upon them … God’s Son was with them … the world was about to change because of the transformation of this strong woman of faith.

My friends as the journey towards the birth in the stable continued Mary had already proven herself as a woman of strength. To those who think courage is wrapped up in superheroic myths or possessed only by specific age groups and genders God once again was out to prove the expected wrong. God had chosen her as the mother for His Son … a young woman of courage and strength. No need to gain approval from others … it was Mary’s choice; Mary’s call; and Mary’s courage that said yes to God, yes to mission, and yes to changing her life plans. If you think about it, since that very moment when Gabriel appeared before her with a plan developed by the Creator of the universe … Mary, has proven to be one of the greatest examples of strength in faith and strength in leadership that people of faith have had for living our lives. This is not some meek and mild blonde European teenage girl that we have imagined wrapped up in a blue dress for so many years … this is a woman of the Middle East about to radically change history … she believed … she said yes … and she took on the world.

Faith is not for those without courage because faith flips the stereotypes all around. Faith in God and Jesus Christ counters the world’s demands and expectations. To have faith a person must change … and once you have faith things really change!

The meek shall inherit the earth … the poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven … those who pursue righteousness will be rewarded for their efforts by God. And, those with pure hearts will see God … the peacemakers oh the peacemakers they my friends will be called the children of God.

So, on this last Sunday of Advent … hours away from this Sanctuary being filled with friends and strangers singing JOY TO THE WORLD … THE LORD HAS COME … it’s Mary who in my mind brings us the example of strength in leadership … Mary teaches us that an unexpected teenage girl can become the Mother of God’s child.

MARY DID YOU KNOW … That your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters. Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new … This child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

She knew … the Angel Gabriel came and told her … “REJOICE … FAVORED ONE!! The Lord is with you!!! The son you conceive and give birth to will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And, you will name Him Jesus and there will be no end to His kingdom.”

Did you know … That your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby, you kissed the face of God.”

So, when you pray do you sense the face of God? When you consider the babe in the manger do you have the strength of faith to stand up to the world and declare THE SON OF GOD has been born for you?

In the face of Christmas lights and television commercials highlighting the latest sales … with the sounds of reindeer out echoing the choirs of angels … on this last Sunday of Advent has the child delivered you? DO YOU KNOW?

Mary looked God’s angel in his eyes and declared “I am the Lord’s servant … “

We are literally hours away from when the churches along the East Coast of America will be filled with glazed over eyes and yawning mouths of once a year church attenders who enter the edifices called church just to fulfill a traditional moment that has nothing to do with faith, God nor Jesus Christ. They are recognized because they are out of place … somehow their lives have moved along day to day without God … without Jesus … their life’s direction perhaps coming from the hate of the headlines rather than the love of the Gospels. The suffering of our world … the punishing of our nation’s poor perhaps due to their disconnect with the Holy but DO YOU KNOW … do YOU have the strength in leadership in your faith on this Christmas Eve to use this year’s Advent and this year’s Christmas to start the change? To bring about revival?

It takes strength my friends … strength in leadership on Christmas Eve to be the voice on the Advent Journey willing to sing JOY TO THE WORLD THE LORD HAS COME on our neighborhood streets. Are you joining with the Psalmist in today’s PSALM … I WILL SING of the LORD’s loyal love forever … I will proclaim the Lord’s faithfulness from one generation to the next … I will … you and you … how many of you will?

Mary declared that she was the Lord’s servant as she began her journey of strength, courage and faith. What an honor to have been selected by God … what a privilege that God asked Mary to take on God’s mission on earth … JOY TO THE WORLD …
But what about us? Do you know that God has already given each of us the privilege? That God has selected us … we are the ones who are willingly on the ADVENT JOURNEY heading towards the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ!!! Christmas is our celebration but Jesus is our daily life … if we have the strength to believe … if we have the faith that God’s “loyal love is rightly built forever” … a choice between falling into God’s arms or running scared away from the light to assume the comfort of not sharing the joy of this Son of God given freely for us all.

Although the shopping days until Christmas have almost vanished into the mist of the calendar the question still needs to be raised DO YOU KNOW … do you know friends … the great truth of the 21st century is that more and more people don’t. As the hours tick towards the midnight hour … the new day’s beginning when the plea of the organs, piano’s, and guitars is O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL … there are so many who are not one of the faithful or they have wrapped up an imaginary faith a convenient human created glittering self righteous isolationist demand in the guise of political convenience that continues to allow them to hate, demean and take from the poor whom the Child under that star came to rescue.

It’s easy to say Christ is the reason for the season … you can’t spell Christmas without Christ but DO YOU KNOW …. Do you think Mary was demanding that the shepherds conform … know it was Jesus who changed them through God’s gift of love.

Strength in leadership this Christmas Eve comes from you and I. Mary’s first journey of faith was not to the Bethlehem stable and she continued to journey for God throughout her life. She was a woman who was a leader of faith .. she was a prophet … she declared “with all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior!”

Can you say that this morning … are you rejoicing in God your savior? With all of your heart are you glorifying the Lord? Friends … on this last Sunday of Advent hear the call of this woman of strength … this bold leader … we have time to change our priorities taking them from the wrapping of gifts to the unwrapping of the Savior … Mary declared “Holy is his name … He shows mercy from one generation to the next who honors Him as God. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty handed.”

Are you singing of the Lord’s loyal love? Are you proclaiming your faithfulness in faith with your words and actions to the next generation? Are you strong enough in what you believe to live it … to accept the joy that can be yours … are you singing of Jesus the Savior or have you left a baby behind in the manger?

The blind will see … the deaf will hear … the dead will live again. The lame will leap; the dumb will speak … THE PRAISES of the LAMB!

Friends do you know? Are you speaking praises of the Lord with joy as this season of anticipation moves into the celebration of birth?

She travelled on her first journey to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth’s house where John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. Then it is on to Bethlehem to give birth … then the escape into Egypt where Mary, Joseph and Jesus are welcomed as strangers … illegal refugees if you would … by the Egyptians. She then returns home to Nazareth … to Jerusalem … to the paths her Son walked … and then under the cross to see Him die but on Easter to celebrate His resurrection.

She gives birth in a barn … she is determined and strong … she is not helpless nor does she allow herself to be cowered into a lesser role in life … holy … strong …. You see when you believe there is strength … there is joy … She speaks out for justice; she knew exactly what her life was going to be about. Yes MARY she did know!

But, do you know … are you ready … future generations need you … your friends and neighbors desperately need to hear. A 13th century faith leader named Meister Eckart wrote, “We are all called to be mothers of God …. For God is always waiting to be born.”

As Advent closes and a new year approaches are you ready to give birth to God in your life so that God can be seen alive and thriving … that your connection with Jesus is crystal clear in your words and deeds?

Joy to the earth; the Savior reigns! Let men and women and children their songs employ. Friends repeat the sounding joy … repeat it over and over again be strong in your faith leadership … because you and I are the leaders of faith as Christmas arrives once again in a few hours … Jesus comes to makes his blessings flow as far as the curse of hate and evil is found! AMEN

Watch a video of our worship service:

© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ