God makes the impossible, possible.
Can you imagine how the Virgin Mary might have felt, as a young innocent girl, going about her day-to-day business, when suddenly an angel appeared and told her that she was favoured by God, and would give birth to a baby!
We don’t know how old Mary was at the time, perhaps about 16, and I think that most girls of that age would have been absolutely terrified, but Mary seemed to accept everything with amazing calmness.
Perhaps she was approached by the angel during a prayerful or contemplative moment, and so realised that this could be something to do with ancient prophesies,
The Prophet Isaiah
She might have been well versed in the Bible and recalled passages from the Old Testament foretelling of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah;
The prophet Isaiah said of Jesus; The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah also said of Jesus (Isaiah 9);
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
These verses tally with what the angel had told Mary. So perhaps she felt that whatever happened, God’s love and strength would be with her and support her as events unfolded.
Isaiah also said of this child that was to be born to a virgin – that he was to be born into the darkness of the world, to light the way for a new beginning.
Meaning, that the child who brought the light would push back at the darkness and proclaim a new world reality.
Which was that, through him, the kingdom of God would draw closer.
The child would bring the promise of hope, peace, joy and love.
This is why we light the four candles of Advent as we build up to celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas day.
Because hope, peace, joy and love are what is so desperately needed in the world today.
Birth of Christ
No one knows the actual date of Jesus’ birth, so the early church fathers chose the winter solstice to celebrate it.
The main point of choosing this time of year was symbolic, in that every day after we welcomed Christ into the world would be a little bit longer, with more day-lit time. And every night would be a little bit shorter, with less darkness to contend with.
And, this is also one of the reasons we put up Christmas lights, as a reminder of, Jesus the light, overcoming the darkness of the world.
It’s no coincidence that there are a lot of angels around at Christmas
Angels in the Bible were known as messengers, and when they delivered their message, the holy spirit often fell upon the person receiving it.
But the spirit would only stay with them for a short while, in Old Testament times.
We may not have been visited by angels ourselves, but because of Jesus, God’s spirit now dwells within those who accept him, and, unlike in the Old Testament days, the holy spirit remains dwelling within the faithful.
So today we are the messengers and means of shining light into the darkness of the world..
This year, as a Christian community, we have been doing this in many ways.
I would like to highlight three ways in particular that stand out for me as how we shine as a beacon of light in this parish;
- Fundraising for war veterans, and provision of gifts and food for the homeless and hungry.
- delivering God’s word within our magazine, throughout the parish and online resources.
- and what can I say about those who have lit up this church so very well this Christmas? Offering a bright and wonderful welcome to the very many visitors we have, from far and wide, at this time of year.
But Christians throughout the world are also working just as hard and energetically operating as God’s angels in a world that is hurting, and demonstrating that it is really a beautiful place to be – when the light of Christ shines in it.
They are showing that darkness does not rule and some people care about others and believe that the virgin birth changed everything.
There is another word that always goes well with Christmas, it is miracles
That’s good news for everyone, but nevertheless, many of us still carry heavy burdens.
The list is long with many different situations, but they often have one thing in common, they seem impossible to solve.
And, some situations are so difficult that we just cannot solve them ourselves.
Let’s face it, if humanity could solve all their problems, then they would probably all have been solved by now and we should be living today in a perfect world. But despite the best efforts of many, our world still has much pain and sorrow.
Because it is only God who can make the world perfect, through Jesus.
The exceptionally good news is that, like the miracle of Christ’s birth, God still works miracles for us today.
They can happen to us when, with the amazing calm that Mary demonstrated, we hand our cares over to him to take care of.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t need to try and resolve our personal issues. I am sure that God does not expect us to passively accept all the things life throws our way.
But sometimes, despite all our best efforts we are left with nothing but despair.
But even then, there is still something. It is hope in the birth of Jesus and all the promises God made because of it.
It means that in good times and bad times, we have someone to turn to, someone to share our joy and burdens with and someone who will take care of what we cannot.
And I can testify to you that he will take care of them, because if this were not true, then I would not be standing here before you this morning.
He might not work things out as quickly as we would like, or in the way we expect or hope for. And he might even use a seemingly impossible situation as the start of an unimagined new path, or direction in our lives.
But he will intervene when we ask him to – in his time, in his way, and he will guide and liberate us from our deepest issues.
This is because as he was actively working through his angels 2,000 years ago. And made the impossible, possible through the virgin Mary.
So too his spirit still lives and is operational in the world today.
And when we let go of our burdens, and hand them over to God, we leave room for him to make the impossible, possible in our lives.