Thirsty

This morning, we jump ahead in Matthew’s gospel to the morning of the Resurrection. This may seem like a strange place to go on this 3rd Sunday of Advent; Christmas is almost here. Actually, this may be the perfect scripture for today. Traditionally, the Third Sunday of Advent is when we light the pink candle on the Advent Wreath; today is the Sunday of joy. It is also the Sunday we normally consider Mary’s perspective on the story of her son, Jesus. And that is the direction we are going this morning.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has a unique point of view with regards the life of this boy, this man this Savior. Only she can share with us the joy of his birth, the wonder of his life, and the sadness of his sacrifice. The bond between mother and son is like no other; Jesus and Mary are no exception. We are invited today to see Jesus through her loving eyes and try to understand another facet of who this child is.

We have the advantage of knowing the full picture of Jesus’ life on earth. Scripture leads us from his birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection. Mary had no such advantage. She was only able to watch each day as Jesus grew up, learned, made mistakes, and cried. Mary saw each little change in this boy as he became a man. Mary was astonished with each new miracle in his life. Mary was horrified when her son had to die so cruelly. And Mary was most joyful of all when her son rose from the dead. Mary knows best what child this is.

“Thirsty”
Sunday, December 17th, 2017
Third Sunday of Advent

Matthew 28:1-10

This morning, we jump ahead in Matthew’s gospel to the morning of the Resurrection. This may seem like a strange place to go on this 3rd Sunday of Advent; we’re planning for Christmas.  Actually, this may be the perfect scripture for today.  Traditionally, the Third Sunday of Advent is when we light the pink candle on the Advent Wreath; today is the Sunday of joy.  It’s also the Sunday we normally consider Mary’s perspective on the story of her son, Jesus.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, has a unique point of view with regards the life of this boy, this man, this Savior.  Only she can share with us the joy of his birth, the wonder of his life, and the sadness of his sacrifice.  We are invited today to see Jesus through Mary’s loving eyes and try to understand another facet of who this child is.  We have the advantage of knowing the full picture of Jesus’ life on earth.  Scripture leads us from his birth, through his life, his death, and his resurrection.  Mary had no such advantage. She was only able to watch each day as Jesus grew up, learned, and began to know himself.  Mary saw each little change in this boy as he became a man; she was astonished with each new miracle in his life.  Mary knows best what child this is.

Let us pray: Lord, this morning we are reminded of the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ birth – the sacrifice he would one day make. Knowing the full arc of His story makes our question even more poignant. “What Child is this?” Help us to see this child through the eyes of his mother and show us what it means to be thirsty for Living Water. In His name we pray. Amen.

We are using a famous Christmas carol as the jumping-off point for this series.  Today, we hear the question answered in the last line of the chorus.  “What Child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?”  This child is, “the babe, the son of Mary.”  Luke’s gospel tells us that Mary is the mother of Jesus, yet the way in which she conceives is a mystery.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  We need to consider why this is important for us to understand.  The angel continues, “therefore, the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”  

Our scientific understanding of how babies are made leads us to see that a child develops characteristics of both parents.  The angel told the virgin Mary what was conceived in her was not from man, but rather, from The Holy Spirit of God.  Paul wrote to the Hebrews that Jesus, “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3)  So, our faith teaches us that this Child is God in the flesh that embodies the exact representation of God the Father, who conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary by way of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, Jesus is fully God.  However, Jesus is also fully human because, as both the Scriptures and the Christmas carol state, he is “the son of Mary.”  The Apostle Paul also speaks to this phenomenon and unique characteristic of Jesus, son of God and son of Mary, in Philippians 2.  “…though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself…” (Philippians 2:6-8)  It is important for us to understand and embrace this dual nature of Jesus Christ.

While there certainly are reflections and attributes in Jesus’ life that display God the Father, likewise, there are reflections from Mary’s life that are seen in her son’s being that help answer the question: What child is this?  The angel tells Mary that she has, “found favor with God.”  Mary had the attributes that God wanted his Son to emulate; to complete the design of who God created this son to be, that includes reflections of his mother.  We see in the Gospel accounts that Jesus deals with people, especially children, with compassion, patience, and tenderness; he also exhibits tremendous power that only God could wield.  Characteristics that would be true of Mary, also are true of the son of Mary, who also was the son of God.  Our video reminds us that Mary was a vulnerable human being who was thrust into a world-changing role she neither asked for nor expected.  While she could not fully comprehend how her son’s life would play out, she had glimpses of the future from angel messengers and prophets in the Temple.  She thought of Jesus as her little boy, but she heard others talk of his miracle abilities and his claim to being “Living Water.”  In our video, Mary says she thirsted to know more.

This “thirst” for answers, for truth, for God, tells me that we seek these things as necessities for life; hydrating is more than just satisfying our thirst; it is about sustaining our life.  The thirst Mary describes is the spiritual need for truth that feeds the life of our soul.  Faith says we know where to find the water.  As parents, we want the very best for our children; we hope for their happiness and their success.  Even though Mary knew her son better than any other human, she still could not help but be thirsty for more; she could not know where this story would take her.  As his story unfolds, Mary will gain a more complete understanding of what child this is and would grow to be.  He would be the one who loved others and loved his family to the very end.  He was selfless and sacrificing beyond measure.  Not only was this child the one who was born in the manger in Bethlehem, but also, he would be the first born from the dead.  And his resurrection gives all people the opportunity to be born again and saved from our sins, just as Mary came to understand.  We too are thirsty, as Mary was, and we too have been led to the Living Water.  In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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