“May I Have Your Attention Please?”
Luke 1:39-80

About 10 years ago I was sent to San Jose, CA for some training. As it happened, the Montreal Expos were playing the San Francisco Giants while I was there. My co-worker I was traveling with was a huge Montreal Expos fan. So we decided we would go to a game. So we hopped on the train from San Jose to San Francisco, just hoping and praying we would find our way to the stadium and, more importantly, our way back to San Jose, our car, and our hotel.

We did make it, without incident! But it sure didn’t feel overly easy at times. Have you ever been on a public transit system where they announce the next stop? Occasionally some voice will come over the intercom and say some words. Usually it sounded like, “Ksshhhgarblegarble…snorklibble…gorbleflunt.” Then some people would stand up and start to make their way to the exits.

For someone who had traveled across the continent and riding on a public express train system for the first time, I began to get worried. Would I be able to decipher this secret code in time for my own stop, or would I be doomed to ride the train for the rest of eternity?

In the end we did make our stop. Although I remember it being more about recognizing the station than understanding the secret code of the telecom.

This is the season of mixed messages. It’s a time where the songs, the stories, they all tell us of a peaceful time. A time of rest and listening to the peaceful bells and choruses, the softly falling snow. Yet companies and commercials are telling us of shoppingshoppingshopping! The rush and the chaos of busy stores and sales and making sure our trees are well hidden by all the gifts that will fill our homes!

How is one to know exactly what to do?

Today, our scripture reading tells us of two announcements. Well, actually a proclamation of faith, and the birth of an announcer.

As I read with the children this morning, Mary had gone to visit her cousin Elizabeth to see for herself what the angle had told her about Elizabeth also being with child. When Mary arrived, the unborn child Elizabeth was carrying leapt for joy inside her and Elizabeth knows immediately what is happening and who has arrived; not just Mary, but she is also with child, a very special child.

Mary then gives a tells a beautiful statement of her faith in what God has done and is doing in the world.

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

This is a beautiful response from Mary who has been asked to deliver a great and wonderful gift to the world. There is no sense of hesitation or worry in her voice at all as she shares this in the presence of Elizabeth at the home of the priest Zechariah.

“My soul magnifies the Lord for he has looked down favourably at his humble servant.”

Her heart is glowing with honour as she has accepted this special assignment from God. Does she have any idea what will come of this? Does she have any clue as to what the rest of her life will be like? Does she know she will have to watch her son die a most painful death? No. All she knows is that God has trusted her with the Messiah. She is the one who will raise this child, the one who has come to save the world.

There’s a great song that is sung this time of year, as we focus on the mother Mary and her journey from the first visit of the angel, her travels about to see Elizabeth, and her long journey to Bethlehem. It’s called “Mary Did You Know”. The lyrics are,

“Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know..
The blind will see. The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again. The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak the praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.”

She doesn’t. She can’t know. What she does know though is that God has a special place for her and her child in His great plan which is being unveiled through her womb.
She announces this proudly, confidently, and yet still humbly.

When Mary left Elizabeth to head back to her home, her family and to Joseph, it was not too long after that Elizabeth gave birth to a son. After the birth of this child called John, Zechariah shared his own announcement,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:58-79)

John has come. The promised one who would come to show the way, to “prepare the highway” as we sang earlier this morning, he has come.

Zechariah announces that his child will “go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God…”

John will be the one who will lead the way when Jesus begins his ministry as an adult. He will be the one who will proclaim the one who is to come. To draw people to attention, to make them aware that the Messiah is coming, and will be here very soon. He baptizes people who come to him, cleansing them of the sin in their lives so they may be able to receive the grace God has brought into the world when it is made known through Jesus Christ.

We have heard the news ourselves, for some of us over and over and over again. Where are we in the story?

Are we spectators or are we participants?

Do we have something to share? Where are our announcements of the wonderful works of God in the world?

Do we even have our own stories to share?

Do we realize that the Lord God has given us a great and wonderful gift which we have been invited to share with the world? Do we enter the story like the unexpected characters we have heard from this time of year?

A young woman of no particular origin or story, chosen to carry and give birth to the Messiah. An older woman, barren and childless, promised the gift of her own special son to prepare people to receive this gift. A small town priest, with some doubts in his heart, made to believe and proclaimed aloud the coming Messiah and the role his own son will have in this great thing God is doing in the world.

God chose ordinary people to do extraordinary things. It’s his pattern all through the Bible.

Jesus Christ has come and shared with the entire world, for all time, the love God has for his creation and his children. Through the his birth, we are now part of the story. Chosen by God, from lowly, humble places to do great and amazing things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this season of preparation and expectation, in this time of great announcements for the coming Messiah and the love and grace he will bring to the earth, how are we involved with the story? Where is our place? Where is Jesus Christ in our lives?

What is it we want the world to know about what this amazing, loving, merciful God has in store for us all?

What is our announcement? What do we have to say?