Mary, the young mother of Jesus, was as a woman powerless in the face of those who ruled the land. Still, in the Magnificat, Mary exults in a power that comes, not from a throne or any earthly authority, but from God. God’s powerful grace and love through Jesus is then claimed for the poor and oppressed.
The Emperor Augustus of the Roman empire was the most powerful man on the planet. He was also the wealthiest man in the Empire. He was called son of God, Savior of the world, King of Kings and Lord. Yet while Augustus was ruling, a little baby born in a stable in Bethlehem would have far greater impact that Augustus. Eventually all the titles used for a Augustus would be used to describe Jesus. Today we honor Jesus and not Augustus.
Joseph frequently gets left out of the Christmas story. He doesn’t seem to be one of the main characters. Some people have even called him the forgotten man. But Joseph is talked about seven times in the Gospels as Jesus grows to be a man. Each time he is mentioned there is sorrow and difficulty. So how does Joseph find joy?
Mary came from an insignificant town named Nazareth. Most people who knew of Nazareth looked down on it. Yet God selects a girl from Nazareth to bring Jesus into the world. A young girl from a nowhere place plays a big role in the beginning of Christianity. God’s choice of Mary tells us about God’s preference to use the lowly and the least likely to do His work in the world.
The Bible is full of joy. There are more than 400 passages in the Bible about joy. But some of the passages in the Bible are about having joy in the midst of adversity. That seems to be surprising. How do we find joy if we are struggling? How do we find joy when there seems to be no hope? In this message we will take a look at finding joy in difficult places.
Sermon preached at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church in Gold Canyon, Arizona on December 24, 2018 by Rev. Fred A. Steinberg
Sermon preached at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church in Gold Canyon, Arizona on December 23, 2018 by Dr. David Worley
Life sends us curve balls. We lose our job. Our spouse dies. We file for bankruptcy. We get a divorce. We are hurt in a severe accident. A child becomes addicted to drugs. The list goes on and on. Mary the mother of Jesus was thrown a curve ball when the angel tells her that she will give birth to the son of God. Her reaction to Gabriel’s curve ball is a helpful example of how we might react.
God loves us more deeply than most of us can imagine. We intellectually understand that God loves us but the Apostle Paul uses imagery that helps us understand the deepest depths of his love. You may feel that you are unlovable but God declares otherwise.