Preaching Resources

Preaching Mission for the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas (December 24, 2023)

Delegates to the 2023 Synod of the Moravian Church in Cuba gather around Brother Obed Martinez for prayer just after his election as a Bishop in the Moravian Unity.

The Call to Be a God-Bearer
by Bishop Chris Giesler

Scripture Text: Luke 1:26-38

In the 6th grade, a boy would never directly ask a girl to be his girlfriend. At least, this was the case in my day. Rather than speak to your heartthrob, you would send a messenger.  You would get your best friend to be your messenger and go and say, “My friend likes you; what do you think?”

When I read the Gospel lesson assigned for the 4th Sunday in Advent, I had to chuckle because this is what God seems to be doing.  Rather than speak directly to Mary, God sends the angel Gabriel.  “Greetings, favored one,” Gabriel says. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”  Mary is perplexed by the greeting; I think you would be too. Gabriel sensed the apprehension and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor, David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there will be no end.”  Wow!  How would that have sat with you?

This is a young teenager; in our day, she would be a member of the youth group. This begins a pattern followed throughout all the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life.  God chooses the road less traveled, the unexpected, the unpredictable.  God chooses the humble, the meek, and the ones willing to serve the needs of others instead of their own.  God chooses the ones who care more for the common good than for their own. So God chooses Mary.  Even though she is perplexed, even though she does not understand how this will be accomplished, even though this makes absolutely no sense, her response will define not only her life but Jesus’.  “‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

The world would change for the better if these words could be on our hearts every morning before our feet hit the floor.  Those words are the words of somebody whose mission in life is defined by their love of and devotion to God.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, can we endeavor to experience it from Mary’s perspective? She is the one who bore Jesus into the world in a very literal way.  But we, too, can be the bearer of good tidings of great joy and allow the love of God for the world to pulse through us and into the lives that we touch every day.  We, too, can bear witness to others through words of grace and acts of kindness.  We, too, can include the outcast and offer words of affirmation to those who need to hear them.

Mary accepts the message that with God, nothing is impossible, and therefore, she pledges her obedience to God’s call upon her.  What is your response to God’s call to be a God-bearer to all the world? You, too, have found favor with God.  What is your response?