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A Divine Interruption

03/12/2023 - Jody Destry

Jesus birth was an interruption (on a grand scale)

Today marks the first weekend of Advent – (latin) Adventus – Ad  = ‘to’ and Venire’ = ‘come’ or’ to arrive/arrival’

Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparing for the arrival of Jesus – our Saviour on that first Christmas morning.  It’s also the start of the new liturgical – the Christian calendar.

The Christmas story is a sacred story but one we can easily become overfamiliar with.

Let me encourage you to experience it with fresh curiosity this year.

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favour with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Some observations about this story – a 3 layered interruption

1/ Interrupted by an angel (divine visitation)

2/ interrupted with unexpected news x 2 (you’re having a baby AND so is Elizabeth who was barren)

3/ Interrupted with a miracle that seemed beyond belief (A virgin birth)

This thing that’s about to happen is remarkable!

The prophesied Saviour King is being sent into the world!!

The one who would bind himself to humanity – and be called Emmanuel – God with us – bringing hope and salvation into the darkness of the world (both then and now) is coming! And he’s coming through the most unlikely, unexpected person – Mary, a 15 year old girl with no status or privilege from a small backwater town.

She has an experience that would forever change life as she knew it.

What is equally remarkable about this encounter is Mary’s response.

Q: How interruptible are you?

v. 38 “Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

But Mary’s not the only one in this story who’s life gets majorly interrupted…

Matt 1:18-25

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All of this occurred to fulfil the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Every time I read this Christmas story I’m inspired and deeply challenged by Mary and Jospeh’s responsiveness to having their entire lives uprooted, turned inside out and upside down in order to steward someone else’s plans.

“Revelation is hard to receive. You must give up everything else to receive it – like finding a treasure in a field and selling everything you have so you can get that treasure”

(Honest Advent book – Scott Erickson)

Q: How interruptible and responsive are we?

Q: How alert, awake and ready are we to how God might want to interrupt us with his plans?

Q: How willing are we to surrender our own plans for his?

Q: How might we make room in our lives for a divine interruption this advent season as we wait expectantly for the arrival of our Saviour?

1st gleaming theme and invitation –  Be Interruptible.

2nd gleaming theme is – The hope of new life.

There is not 1, but 2 miraculous pregnancies wrapped up in this Christmas story.

  1. Zachariah and Elizabeth (old age / barren)
  2. Mary and Jospeh (young  / virgin)

A double miracle – A picture of HOPE multiplied!

Anything worthwhile takes time to grow – but learning to wait in our instant culture is even harder.

In our culture everything is geared to speed us up toward Christmas ….. to make it come quicker – decorations are going up in stores in October in an attempt to bring Christmas to us early, the general pace of life speeds up right before Christmas which is ironic because Christmas and advent is actually all about the slow process of waiting patiently and expectantly for the arrival of a baby.

Q: Have you even had an experience of waiting on the Lord for something?

(chances are if you have, it’s taken longer than you would have liked to get an answer or a breakthrough)

Maybe there’s something you’re waiting for God to do in your life right now?

A need or a desire you have?

In waiting there is sense of longing and expectation – for what is to come, for what could be.

Advent invites to ask the question –

Q: What new thing is God doing in us? What is being birthed in us this season that God is inviting us make room for – to make preparations to receive?

Birth is beautiful and full of joy – there is something very holy and wondrous about it –  but it’s also messy, it can be chaotic, it’s risky sometimes and painful –  actually nothing neat and tidy about it.

It’s often the same when God is doing something new in us – sometimes it’s beautiful and joyful – but to he honest – it’s often messy and painful and risky too.

The journey Mary and Joseph had to go on together throughout the pregnancy through to the birth of Jesus was not an easy journey, there were obstacles and opposition, it was dangerous and risky.

Yet into the stench of that putrid stable and into the darkness of the night came the Light of the World – Jesus was born – a thrill of hope and the weary world rejoiced so the song goes!

At Christmas we celebrate that the Light of the World is still coming into the dark and putrid places of our world to restore hope and bring new life.

And he’s still coming into your life and into my life – into mess and the stench – bringing the hope of a future established in him.

So will we make room this Christmas for a divine interruption?

And will we make room to receive the hope of new life coming to us and in us?