Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Certified Lay Speaker Angela Wylie Brings Advent Message On Virgin Mary
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Searching For The Real Virgin Mary
Today's search was for the Virgin who was Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, became pregnant with the Child of Promise and who, heavy with that Child, rode a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
The search took this congregation through hymns like What Child Is This, prayer concerns for our community, the ancient Scripture of Luke 1:27b-28 and a Meal of Holy Communion.
But, ultimately the search was rewarded most through the worldview lens of Certified Lay Speaker Angela Wylie, whose simple title for this most special sermon was a single word: Mary.
But it was Angela's unique perspective of East Texas Earth Mother and specialized educator of high school students that ultimately provided the brush strokes this congregation needed for the evening's portrait of God's unlikely choice to conceive and deliver the Christ Child and bring Joy To The World.
To begin, Angela actually read a somewhat longer Scripture, Luke 1:26-38, and also paid special heed to the prophetic Word of Isaiah 7:14. This Child was indeed to be special, born of a Virgin and in circumstances most humble.
Angela stressed the intensity and the drama surrounding this young girl and her angelic visitor, reminding us that most First Century Jewish girls were married at about age 14, the approximate age of today's Twenty-First Century high school freshman. So, Angela assumed that Mary might have given birth to Jesus at about age 15, still a very young age by today's standards, an age when one might be getting ready to become a sophomore in high school.
It was here that Angela took special note of just how God has chosen to surprise humanity with His divine choices: A shepherd with a speech impediment (Moses) to lead the Children of Israel out of captivity, a raving enemy (Paul) of the Way of Jesus to become perhaps the greatest Christian missionary of all time. We got the picture that Angela was painting for us: Did God use poor judgment in His choice to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God?
As it turned out, God also knew what He was doing this time. The young Virgin named Mary proved wonderfully obedient, accepted the assignment and performed magnificently, from the Joy of that first Christmas to the chaos of the Cross when only she and the Apostle John were there to witness her son's agony, sacrifice and, most of all, the precious Blood of Atonement.
Mary was virginal, young and obedient. Angela compared Mary's reaction to that of Zecharia, dwelling on his initial unbelief and the punishment he received for that single act. Mary, on the other hand, accepted the word of the angel, embraced the honor inherent in her assignment and sang the praises of God.
Angela noted that Joseph also was obedient, and that the couple dutifully made the arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, this fulfilling the prophecy that Jesus would be born there.
As an aside, Angela speculated: I daresay that Mary never again rode a donkey while nine months pregnant. Angela compared the likely discomforts of that donkey ride with one of her own long-ago road trips that she would just as soon have avoided, a very unpleasant trip to Yellowstone and non-stop return.
Angela also mentioned what she called the unnatural visitation of the shepherds who came to witness the newborn Christ Child after themselves receiving an angelic prompting. She discussed the impact of Simeon and Anna at the Temple, and even the time when Jesus astonished the scholars in Jerusalem despite his own youth at about age 12.
Mary was a dutiful mother for all of Jesus' life, Angela concluded, although she conceded that perhaps Mary meddled a bit at Cana. And, despite the apparent tragedy of the Cross, Mary experienced the joy of Jesus' Resurrection.
Angela's conclusion: If we, like Mary, are obedient to God's Will, Jesus will take care of us as He did His own mother at the Cross when he charged John with caring for Mary. To receive His care, we need only reach out with our heart, soul and mind to accept this marvelous Gift of Eternal Life.
Angela's message concluded with the congregation singing Lord Of The Dance.