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Loving Lavishly

Luke 1:26-38 and Everything is Waiting for You by David

Sunday December 24th, 2023

By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche


Good morning and welcome again to what is in our tradition the fourth Sunday in Advent with the theme of love and tonight we will gather for Christmas Eve! Today we get the privilege of traveling two liturgical seasons in one day. 

I invite you now to take some deeper breathes, letting us all arrive a bit more fully to hear whatever word our Greater Love has for each of us today. 


I invite you to join me in the preacher’s prayer from Psalm 19.

Gracious God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock, and our Redeemer Amen.


For nothing will be impossible with God. 

That is what the angel says to Mary in this story that we heard from the Gospel of Luke. And I just love that line, even though it feels hard to relate to in a way. But I can relate to Mary’s confusion. And she wonders how this could happen? And clearly she is frightened because the angel also tells her that phrase we hear throughout the Bible, Do not be afraid. And when someone says that, we might wonder if we should be afraid.

And this is the end of the angel’s mini sermon, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And as you heard, Mary responds with these beautiful lines. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” 


I don’t know about you, but for me, it seems a bit fantastical to imagine that a Higher Power would arrive in the form of an angel with life changing news and without asking for time to process, respond with a first century way of saying “I’m in!” Maybe she took more time and scripture just didn’t record her saying, “Can you let me take a walk? Ca you let me just take this in?” But according to the story she responds right away.


I want to believe that I would be able I could say yes to the Higher Power so quickly, but I am not sure honestly.


First of all, do you know what stands out for me this year, upon reading this ancient story? I bet then just as now, there were lots of people claiming to speak on behalf of God. So whom do we trust? You got angels claiming to speak on behalf of God and religious leaders saying that. What do we believe? How do we know for sure when we should say “I’m in! I will do this?”

I regularly hear what people are doing in search of depth, meaning, healing a spiritual life, purpose and more. And some are paying thousands to attend attend retreats and workshops to hear from spiritual experts and gurus. They are even paying money for digital detox. Just put the device away!


There are lots of people claiming to be some kind of angels with messages that are sacred?


So whom do we trust? What do we believe? 


And in a time when many of the wars being waged are being done in the name of religious traditions and or a spiritual motivation, what is true in all of this? How do we know what to give ourselves to and when to say yes to the Universe?


It turns out that phrase, that last line that the angel offers to Mary, in Greek, Adunateo,  impossible, is more like not having strength or ability so what the angel is saying to Mary is really more like, if you are doing this guided by love, there is nothing coming your way that you don’t have the strength for, there is nothing that you will encounter that you don’t have the power to overcome, there is nothing you will find on this path ahead that you don’t have the knowledge to navigate, if you are doing this guided by God, which is love.


That’s part of how I think we can know whom to trust and what do believe, how we know for sure when we should say “I’m in! Yes!” Here it is: Does it add more love in the world? That is one of the guides we should use for whether something is from God or whether it is an action we should take.


Does it create more chances for loving and being loved? Does it birth and create instead of destroy? Does it allow for what is not yet to come into being. That is how we know it’s truly a message to take in, how we know it’s true and right.

Sometimes when things seem beyond complicated in the world, I give thanks that often our answer is really simple and right in front of us and nothing we need to pay for: the answer is lavish love, saying yes to more bringing more love in the world, all of us can take a chance on that right now.  If we are guided by love, there will be nothing coming our way that we don’t have the strength for, nothing that we will encounter that we don’t have the power to overcome. And you will notice in the story it’s not as if we read Mary moves forward because her fear is gone. She moves forward and says yes anyway. I really do believe there is nothing on this path that we don’t have the knowledge to navigate when we are guided by love.


What does it mean for you to say yes, to the Universe to God, whatever name you have for it? What would it take for you? What does that look like in your life? Knowing that angels come in many forms. We are going to take two minutes now to turn to those around us as we are moved or to listen if we are not ready to share. What does it take for you to say yes to a Higher Power? How do you give yourself over to the Universe when you know you must? How do you know what to work for, pray for, say yes to when we know many voices are claiming to speak on behalf of the Holy?


COMMUNAL REFLECTION


Thank God for the poets! Beloved of God, we need not feel alone, the grand array, the swelling presence is here, even in the smallness. Everything is waiting for you. Love is waiting for you, love is available to and for all of us, always there, freely offered, a resource that can never become scarce, and we don’t want it to become a language we don’t know how to speak anymore. So what if one of the messages for us this Christmas is to pay attention to those open doors where love might be the way? 

And to be quicker to say the kind thing, to do the loving the thing, to write the note that would be easier to skip. To find more ways to give away freely from what we have when we have what we need. Christmas is the story about how the great mystery takes on human form and how people whom the world labels lowly get to be agents of beautiful, glorious, miraculous things and it’s also about each of us has the power to say, “Here am I!” I will do this, love lavishly. May we all carry on in love. May it be so. Amen.



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