Thursday, December 3, 2020

Advent shocks (1)

I am calling next Sunday's sermon Advent Shocks though I know how difficult it is to be shocked by a story we know so well.  Rather like telling something good about someone and then asking them to act surprised if they hear it from the person concerned. 'Pretend you don't know!' How difficult is that? And yet, I shall seek to push for some surprises in Luke 1:26-38.

I shall dare to ask about God's choices.  Why did he choose certain elements of this story? Obviously the 'sixth month' (v26) emphasizes the role of Elizabeth's pregnancy in the advent timeline.  Six months into her pregnancy reminds us how God chooses to begin the Christmas story with the nativity story of John the Baptist.  To have two utterly unknowns Zechariah and Elizabeth in the frame, with Gabriel giving them a parallel message to that of Mary, wakes us up to see how God loves to work by ordinary human ways to change the history.  When he could have gone public with Gabriel's God-zapping in a big impressive way he chooses to work by his Spirit with ordinary humans - pregnancy, birth and trusting lives.

I invite you to look further at these familiar verses and reflect on what surprises I might be about to highlight concerning God's choices.  I see three key advent shocks.  I will spell them out in the next post or two.  I am fairly sure you will guess them!

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