12/15/19 – “Imagine What Is Possible!”

Posted on : Dec 12th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty or more years ago, if anyone would have told me what my life experiences would be, I would have never believed them. I’ll bet the same holds true for you.

The theme I chose for this, our final Advent together is “God’s Awesome ADVENTure.”  And what an adventure this journey has been!

When I began my ministry at West Hollywood Church, we were a Presbyterian Church with an historic witness of being on the cutting edge of spiritual and social change.   In 1984 we were the first Christian Church in the mainstream Protestant tradition to have a congregation that was overwhelmingly comprised of gay and lesbian people.  We were the first Church in mainstream Christianity to want a gay minister/pastor.  Such a thing was unheard of in mainstream Christianity. Most of the Christian denominations at that time held official positions that “homosexuality was sinful and not part of God’s plan.”  Some used even worse language than that!

But, in spite of the persecution, we persevered, and God empowered our voices and lives as we worked to change Christian History.  And we did.  We changed 2,000 years of Christian History!  My friends, that seldom happens in anyone’s lifetime!

This Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, we focus on the story of Mary, the mother-to-be of Jesus and her aging Aunt, Elizabeth.  An angel of God appeared to Mary to reveal to her that God had chosen her to give birth to the long-awaited Christ-child.  Mary’s response: “That’s impossible!”  She ran off to be with her aging Aunt, Elizabeth, who had not been able to conceive a child and was well past the age of conceiving a child.  And then, that pesky angel told Mary that Elizabeth was pregnant.  Mary’s response: “That’s Impossible!”  (Do you sense a theme here?)  The final revelation Elizabeth and Mary received from the angel was this: “Nothing is impossible with God!” 

For me, that is one of the most profound and important messages in the entire Bible.  Nothing Is Impossible With God!  It has taken me a lifetime to “live into” that reality, but as I look back on my life and our life together, I’ve come to know just like Mary, that nothing is impossible with God. Discovering and accepting that reality ultimately leads us to a deep and profound sense of JOY. 

The Joy that comes from knowing that “With God Nothing Is Impossible” is what we will focus on this Sunday!

Advent Blessings and JOY to you,

Dan

 

The Annunciation and Mary’s Song of Jubilation

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, the angel Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning!
You’re full of God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.

Mary was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her,

“Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,
    be called ‘Child of the Highest.’
God will give him
    the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
    no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Mary said to the angel,

“But how? I’ve never been with a man.”

The angel answered,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
    the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
    will be called Holy, Child of God.

“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

And Mary said,

Yes, I see it all now:
    I am God’s, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
    just as you say. 

Then the angel left her.

Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Savior should visit me?
The moment the sound of your
    greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
    skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
    believed every word would come true!

And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
God’s mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe of God.
God bared her arm and showed her strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
She knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what God promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

From:  The Message  by Eugene H. Peterson.  Copyright © 2002

 

 

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