I found myself in a Starbucks on Friday night…working…waiting (for my kids)…wanting to hear some of Lauren Daigle’s new Xmas album (she’s good). One problem, I didn’t have ear buds with me. Instead, I had to listen through my iphone’s small speaker. Not good quality at all, as I’m missing all the good and important parts of the music that support Lauren’s beautiful voice. And to top it off, I’m competing with café noise, store music, and a bit of café chatter.
If you crack open a Christmas flyer, you will be sure to find a section on music listening devices…things like as bluetooth speakers, headphones & ear buds are very popular items this time of year. It’s a huge market. In 2017, the bluetooth speaker market alone was 3.4 billion. This is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2023.
Back to headphones; when buying one of these said headphones…what is the most popular feature? Noise Cancelling! The goal of these headphones and any kind of speaker, is to help you, the listener, only hear and focus on…the music…the podcast…the voice!
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Last week we talked about the Christmas song, ‘Do you hear what I hear?’. Written by Noel Regnay and Gloria Shayne, in 1962, during Cuban Missile Crisis, it’s a song about the fear of war and the longing for peace.
“I am amazed that people can think they know this song and not know it is a prayer for peace” (Noel Regnay)
The second verse gets to the heart of the title of this song…
Said the little lamb to the Sheppard boy
Do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky Sheppard boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song
High above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea
Listen, the writer says, for a voice, a voice as big as the sea. I really believe he’s contrasting the fears of citizens hearing bombs fly through the sky, to the one who truly has a voice that big – GOD.
We choose who’s voice gets a hearing in our lives. We know there’s competition, but in the end, we choose what goes in. We choose who & what we listen to.
Whoever has access to your ear, has access to your life.
So…will we turn down the noise, and turn up the volume…to hear the voice of Jesus in our lives?
This week we turn to Mary…
Advent is a great time for Christians to reflect on the witness of Mary. I’m so grateful for her because she holds the contemplative and justice traditions together…She deeply ponders and daringly prophesies.
We get our first introduction to her in Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.(OT meaning)(a big deal for Israel) The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. (= Yeshua = yasa = saves/rescues) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[ the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
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This of course is a pre-birth narrative – because babies aren’t just born, something has to happen before birth. And this was an important birth. Larry King was asked who’d he’d interview if he could only choose one person behind the desk with him. He said, Jesus. Because if Jesus could prove he was born from a virgin, that would change everything. He was. It did.
What can we take from this message to Mary?
God initiates conversation (v.26)
God sends an angel…God starts this!
If God wants to talk to you, he will talk to you. That’s the way it works.
(download this exchange between Seinfeld and Stephen Cobert hello?)
God calling us and us responding with an ‘hello’ is a grand theme in scripture: God initiates! How amazing is that? God’s a conversation starter!
God chooses…and it’s not always (or often) who we think it is. (v.27)
Mary has a few things going against her in the “I’m going to make a difference category”
- She’s from a very small town (what good can come from Nazareth)
- think about a town or city that you don’t like, maybe it’s your home town, and the best thing about it was leaving…that’s what people said about Nazareth
- She’s a woman (in the first century)
- She’s young (in any century)
- She has ‘no status’ (in the first century)
Yet, what do we hear the angel say, “you are favoured.” Does the favour come before the choosing or the other way around? I’d say it works like this, God chooses you, therefore you’re favoured.
Conversations with God go both ways (v.29)
Mary was perplexed and confused.
This story reminds us that we are allowed to wonder…it’s ok to ask a follow-up question…God can handle it.
God is powerful, strong, intentional, and risky…(v.35)
God overshadowed Mary. What a beautiful and mysterious description of what happened. Overshadowing is normally a negative thing…right? Someone taking the credit from you. But think of it as being wonderfully and beautifully overwhelmed by God. Someone described it as a BIG tree that overshadows you, covers you, protects you, envelops you. Mary recognizes at that moment, that God is so much bigger than her – that her story gets enveloped in God’s story.
If God asks something of you, he will come through.
“Nothing is impossible” (the angel says)
“The word of god will never fail”
Often, we’re afraid of what God might want to say, or ask of us, because the task or the outcome seems too daunting, too scary, impossible to succeed. You’re right, it is. But there’s one big difference – with God, nothing is impossible!
Press “1” for yes… “2” for no… “3” for French… “4” to hear this message again.
Mary’s presses “1” with an emphatic YES.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Everything that happens in this story…and everything that follows in this gospel, happens because…God speaks…and Mary listens!
Are we hearing what she heard?
Are we hearing what God wants to tell us today?
Think about the ripple effects of your YES’s to God’s voice and message in your life.
Remember this, when God speaks to us, two things happen: Either He’s working in us. Or. He’s works through us!
Are you willing to listen to God’s voice? Worthy or Unworthy? If you think you deserve to hear him or not?
- Mary was a young, female, virgin, from Nazareth
- Nothing about her, in that context, would say that she should be used for great things
Will you push through the noise and clutter, to hear what God has to say?
- What might be in the way of you hearing God’s voice? (I’m not ‘able’ to hear this message)
- What’s competing with God’s voice in our lives?
Will you say YES? Press “1”? Even in the midst of the confusion and questions, will you trust God enough to say yes, allow him to overshadow you, allow him to use you? Allow him, dare I say, to use you to share Jesus with the world?
That’s what Mary did.
What’s your part in this story?
“Whoever has access to your ear, has access to your life.”