Light in the Darkness: Dreams and Nightmares

Dreaming of Mercy

One of my I can’t think this is happening in my life experiences is that somejust how Grace and I have a child that is old sufficient to be looking at colleges and also wondering wright here to apply following year. She’s an amazing child, and also she’ll end up somewbelow excellent we know, however it’s type of a scary process for a teenager to begin to imagine life out in the significant people. And it’s type of a scary procedure for a parent to be releasing your child right into the significant world, hoping things go well for them, hoping they are met with kindness and also generosity and support, dreaming of mercy for them.

Getting a boy prepared for college also brings ago for me the many type of years I aided other people’s teenage children prepare to leave second institution and leave house. They too were dreaming of a good launch right into a type and also just human being, however it wasn’t always basic. One student I taught for multiple years had strong grades, a great track document of character and also resilience and leadership, had a totality team of mentors choose me prepared to sing their praises, and also had actually overcome virtually impossible odds on a range of fronts for all that to be so. But they had really, really low standardized test scores.

And once it came time for this young perboy to apply for better education and learning, college after college sent out their rejections. I tried calling a couple of schools’ admissions officers, and one of those colleges this amazing boy applied to – simply one – took my contact. They asked me: what are we intended to make of these test scores? How will certainly this perchild make it in college? And I described some points from an educator’s perspective – around time and also tests and also capability and disability – that I believed made a solid case for this applicant. But in the end, I remember thinking, I might have shelp this also. Do you want to live in a civilization wright here a young perkid this extrasimple can’t go to college because of a single set of exams? Is that the kind of people you desire make today? Or execute you desire to make a more just and also merciful world than that? I remember dreaming, longing for mercy for this young person. I’ll come ago to that in a minute.

Last week, we had actually an extraplain organization together, didn’t we? It was our yearly participatory liturgy in this Advent seachild of Light in the Darkness. Our pastor Ivy and friends created and also led an extrasimple time of worship where we can respond to the dreams and also the nightmares of the Christmas story, the dreams and also the nightmares of our age, also the dreams and the nightmares of our own lives.

Our question of the day on our welcome cards we asked early on in the business was What are you longing for? A lot of you wrote something dvery own, even more than normal. And as I check out with them on Tuesday, and also prayed for them, my heart broke with your longings.

Longings for companionship and friendship and also acceptance and also partnership.

You watching: At the mercy of a dream

Longings for the people who are closest to you to be kinder or gentler with you.

Longings for the world to be kinder and fairer to the world you care about.

Longings for healing, longings for recovered connection, longings for possibility.

Tbelow was some comic relief below and there. One of you last week around this time was longing to be playing FIFA soccer on a PS4 video game console. I feel that longing.

But most longing for justice and kindness in your civilizations. So a lot dreaming of mercy.

This Advent, this season of Light in the Darkness, we’re looking at the dreams of Christmas. The week prior to last, I talked around Joseph’s dream of God through us. Next off week, we’ll talk about Jesus’ massive dream of the Kingdom of God. And this day, we’ll look at Mary’s experience in the Christmas story, Mary’s calling to be the teenage mom of God, and also Mary’s leading us in dreaming of mercy.

We’ll take her story in two components. Here’s the first component, from Luke’s account of Jesus’ life, that picks up just after we heard around an unmeant pregnancy elsewhere in Mary’s family, through her older cousin Elizabeth.

Luke 1:26-38 (CEB)

26 When Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27to a virgin that was involved to a male named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28When the angel came to her, he sassist, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is via you!” 29She was puzzled by these words and also wondered what kind of greeting this can be. 30The angel shelp, “Don’t be afrhelp, Mary. God is honoring you. 31Look! You will conceive and also provide birth to a child, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be good and also he will be referred to as the Son of the Many High. The Lord God will certainly offer him the thramong David his father. 33He will certainly dominance over Jacob’s residence forever before, and tbelow will be no finish to his kingdom.”

34Then Mary shelp to the angel, “How will this take place since I haven’t had sex-related relations with a man?”

35The angel responded, “The Divine Spirit will come over you and also the power of the Many High will overshadow you. Because of this, the one that is to be born will be holy. He will certainly be referred to as God’s Son. 36Look, even in her old age, your family member Elizabeth has actually conceived a boy. This woguy that was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is currently six months pregnant. 37Nothing is impossible for God.”

38Then Mary sassist, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be via me just as you have actually said.” Then the angel left her.

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Wow – what an experience for a teenage girl! Now I recognize that male human being over the centuries have obsessed around one point in this story — what has actually or hasn’t to perform through sex. You deserve to imagine that in our family members with preteen and also teenage youngsters, this aspect of the story comes up also there approximately Christmas time. Interesting points have been said!

But this is not the only area in a Jesus-focused confidence wbelow you’ve got to concerned terms via modern science and clintends of the miraculous, or the super-natural, beyond herbal. And there are different methods to perform that, but that’s a whole various other sermon, which I’d be happy to provide one day. But today, I desire to emphasis on Mary’s endure as a teenager.

Now I understand that tbelow really weren’t such points as teens 2 thousand years back, not the way we think of that phase of life this day. But still, Mary would have been somewhere in that age bracket, we think, and after this messenger of some type claims, Rejoice, you’re the favorite, God’s with you, she’s so perplexed. Like what?!? God’s favorite? I’m a teenager, and type of a nobody, at that.

But the messenger states – you’re wrong! God’s favored you for something extraordinary, for this big, big thing!

All of this sounds so scary, yet God is not scared. And every one of this first area of Mary’s story really emphasizes the power of God.

Greatness, the boy of the most high, the thramong David, ruling over Jacob’s home forever before, no end to his kingdom – all these words and phrases clustered together speak to the power of God. All this imperial language spoken to a teenage girl, born in a small village, to a functioning class household, living on the outskirts of a tiny country, ruled through an iron fist by a large empire – this speaks to power of the God of the difficult.

This speaks to the capacity of God to at any type of time and also location, to a new and also wonderful job-related of justice and mercy. To the hope that Jesus is existing through us growing a brand-new family members, a brand-new method of being through God and through one one more on this earth.

Nopoint is impossible through God.

When I gained off the phone through that admissions officer I told you around, it was via no assurance that they would certainly accept my student. And I was so afrassist – what if this was the finish of the line for the substantial dream we had actually pumped right into his head about all that could come with education and also hard job-related.

But a pair of weeks later on, he acquired their acceptance letter. And a month or so later, their really good financial aid package. And off he checked out college. And then to honors at that college. And right into employment, and also graduate college, and also then a part time teaching place at that graduate college, along with skilled honors, civic affect. The difficult made possible.

My old student talks around this a lot, around all he’s done and all he’s gonna execute later on. And I supplied to uncover this annoying. This boasting from a perkid that I otherwise have actually so much affection for. But Grace stated to me when, this isn’t really bragging, it’s simply the joy of overcoming. He’s got the joy of having actually watched the impossible end up being feasible so many times in his life. Who wouldn’t want to celebprice that?

The Advent seaboy affirms that life is desperately difficult, that we are imprisoned by forces within and without, that so much is not as it should be in our stays and also in our human being, and also yet the introduction seachild also asks us to hear the words of God into that suffer, to hear God say to us: Do not be afraid. Nopoint is difficult for God.

I offered to think it was my job to tell human being how negative this human being have the right to be. I did this some in my teaching. I definitely have actually done it in my parenting. I think of all the methods once my kids were young that I was choose – don’t execute this, don’t touch that, watch out for these type of world and also these sort of situations. Be careful, bereason you never recognize when this or that awful thing could take place.

And some of that’s OK. Kids should learn to look prior to they cross the street, or how to not burn their residence down. But currently, as we’re in that phase of acquiring all set to send our youngsters out right into the world without us, more and also even more I feel God speaking to me that my project is to tell them and to present them that they perform not have to be afraid. That I entrust them to God and to this civilization. That things are going to be OK, and better than OK. That God is via them, and also nopoint is difficult, so don’t be afraid.

Do you understand that God is not scared of our world?

Hard to think, appropriate, bereason everyone else is. The right-wingers are destroying our people, and also the liberals are ruining it, and also Trump’s doing or saying these crazy things aacquire, or the Russians, or huge data, or synthetic knowledge, or climate change is gonna get us all, and the future is bleak, bleak, but God is not scared of our people.

I’m not saying be naive, or roll over on injustice, or put your fingers in your ears and loss asleep to this age. Be awake, be engaged, carry out your part. But civilization have actually lived through awful points and also awful times prior to, and also God is not scared.

In truth, let’s make this more personal. God is not scared of your life. God is not scared of your debt, or your singleness, or your marital relationship, or your kids, or your barrenness. God is not scared of your illness or your grief. God is not scared of your worst mistakes, and also God is not scared of your greatest unknowns.

Due to the fact that God is a God of love and also mercy, and also bereason God retains the capacity to execute what we speak to impossible.

Sometimes we have evidence for this, and sometimes we don’t, however it’s at the heart of an invitation to confidence – to trust that God is immaybe excellent, and also that nothing is impossible through God.

Now I’m saying all this, yet Mary, what does Mary perform through this enrespond to. She’s like: albest, God, let it be. And then the first point she does is hightail it to her cousin’s house. She goes to see her older cousin Elizabeth we’ve heard around, the one who’s additionally along in pregnancy – to aid her out, yet sudepend to hide out a little, and to get her bearings and gain some assistance from an additional womale.

You might remember from two weeks back that her fiancee Joseph does not think her and plans on dumping her. But once she sees her cousin, Elizabeth doesn’t shame her or take her dvery own yet affirms what God is doing in her. Says yes, you have actually been liked by God for this extraplain thing.

And in the confident that her cousin’s trust and also affirmation gives her, Mary (choose Elizabeth) is filled with Spirit and also bursts into poetry. And this is what she says: