Preaching Resources

The 4th Sunday of Advent (December 19, 2021)

God’s Mission is Our Mission
The Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler
Director of Mission Engagement

Assigned texts:

  • Micah 5:2-5a
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-55

Our passage from Luke breaks into two sections. The first is the account of the pregnant Mary’s visit to her older cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant herself.  The second contains what is often known as Mary’s Magnificat. It is a remarkable conversation! It is her heartfelt explanation to Elizabeth as to what is happening to her and what this all means concerning God’s movement in the world.

First of all, we see here that God moves in mysterious ways and uses even the marginalized of the marginalized.  Here we have an older woman, Elizabeth, who herself had been considered barren.  To not be fruitful and multiply was often considered a curse from God.  It certainly puts stress on a family to not have children to carry on the family legacy and help earn income.  So here we have an older woman who has now conceived a child late in her life hosting a young cousin, who is carrying a child of her own conceived under questionable standards, at least by appearance.  God does not need the rich and powerful to carry out a plan for salvation.

God’s plan is magnified and moved forward into action through these two women.  This plan is outlined in Mary’s song, often labeled “The Magnificat”.  She lays the groundwork for how Jesus will later describe his own ministry.  Mary’s song underscores that this is God’s action and explains what God is doing through her, not what she is doing.  So, what is God’s mission here? According to Mary:

  1. God has looked favorably on her lowliness and Elizabeth’s as well.
  2. God has done great things for Mary in calling her to this act of service.
  3. God’s mercy is extended to those who fear (honor) God, from generation to generation. This is not a temporary arrangement.
  4. God has shown strength by scattering the proud in this action toward the lowly.
  5. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. This action will turn the world upside down. The scales are being turned.
  6. God fills the hungry with good things and has sent the rich away empty!
  7. In mercy, God has helped Israel, God’s servant.

God’s mission has now become Mary’s mission.  These were radical ideas for Mary in her day, and they are for us as well.  These are words of hope and words that challenge us here in North America.  Today, we are the rich and powerful.  Where is God placing us?  How can we humble ourselves to be God’s servant rather than bending God’s will to bless our place in life?

Especially here at the end of Advent and close to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we tend to romanticize all of this to a cute baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, being gently held in a manger.  Mary tells us that what is happening here is radical action on God’s part.

So, how are we magnifying God’s presence in the world today?  How are we allowing God’s mission to become our mission?


/* ]]> */