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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Balmer

Bearing Good News

This sermon preview is part of "Pardon the Interruption: An Advent Series."

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“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.


-From Luke 1:28–38



 “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told”


-From Luke 2:1-20


 

Sometime Monday evening, Kendall and I realized how much we had to do before Christmas. We loaded our one-month-old daughter into the car, braved the cold, and hit three stores in as many hours. Our little one took her dinner in a Target fitting room. A normal routine was interrupted by hurry. 


Has Christmas snuck up on you this year? Good! Christmas should come in a burst. God’s timing is not our timing. But it is in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4) that Jesus came. 


This year, the last Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve fall on the same day. 


Sunday morning, we’ll see how Mary is the first faithful disciple: hearing the word of God and responding to it. It’s hard to imagine a life more interrupted, plans more upended, than Mary’s plans. And yet her response is, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” 


In the evening, we’ll travel with Shepherds whose normal day shifts were interrupted by a chorus of an angel army proclaiming the good news of great joy and peace to those on whom God’s favor rests. When Mary hears of this astounding tale (after childbirth!) she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” 


God doesn’t come in our time. Christmas comes in a burst. It interrupts. It upends. It upsets. But because it does so, we can be confident that Christmas peace doesn’t come into our world once it is tidy and neat. It comes to people tending smelly livestock. It comes to the poor and at-risk. The news, tidings of great joy, the blessing of peace on earth: words worth treasuring and pondering. 


Christmas can still interrupt our lives. But the true meaning of Christmas won’t generate more hurry, like my last-minute shopping. Instead, Christmas interruptions generate wonder and awe at the God coming to be Immanuel – God with us – in the right time, the fullness of time, God’s time.

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