Born to Bring Hope, Luke 1:39-56

Born to Bring Hope; Luke 1:39-56
Preached @ Harambee Church (A Soma Communities Expression) by Pastor Michael Gunn on November 29th, 2009

Introduction
What gives you hope? Or maybe a better question is “What is hope?” Does “Finite” hope bring lasting satisfaction? The Christmas story is an ancient story. It’s a story of hope copied by many different folklore, movies, books, etc. (Movies like the “Terminator” and the “Matrix” are a good example). So often in the past, I have been reluctant to preach this story, because it has become mythology in a culture that believes in Santa Clause. As a matter of fact neo-Atheist Richard Dawkins fondly refers to the belief in a god as equivalent to believing in “Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny or the Great Spaghetti Monster.” What he fails to recognize is that neither of his co-equals provides the world with real hope, nor have any of these other myths (The “Spaghetti Monster” is his own sarcastic creation, without any mythical meaning), had the world-wide impact that the Jesus story has had on this world for 2000 years!

This story has eternal implications! This story was the result of a promise that had been embedded into the hearts and minds of the ancient Israelites, and told to the nations through their witness (As weak as it was), and has now been delivered to His Church (His gathered people for His glory). Our story reminds us that ultimate Hope can only come from believing in Christ, and recognizing that He is the promised one who has come to give hope to the lowly and the humble. He has come to re-right a severe wrong. He has come to establish His own kingdom, which operates upside down, where the weak are strong, and the first shall be last.

From the Head…
A Contrast of Hope (Acts 16:19; 26:6-7)
It has been felt for quite some time in biblical scholarship that Luke and Acts are written by the same author and that the book of Acts is a continuation of Luke’s treatise on the story of Jesus and the acts of His church for the first 30-40 years of expansion into the gentile world. I am using this as a contrast between biblical and earthly hope, and using it as an intro into an understanding of biblical hope, that only comes “In Christ,” and anything else will only bring forth disappointment, bitterness, stress, anxiety, etc.

The Story of Hope: A Reminder (Genesis 1-3; 12:1-3)
In order to better understand this story in our passage today, we must have at least a basic understanding of the “Promise” that our story is centered around. There is so much recent controversy in regards to the birth story of Jesus being a rip off from other pagan religions, and it has been documented that the use of the 25th of December and many of the traditions associated with Christmas are a conglomeration of pagan myths from a few mythologies over the years. The fact is Christianity has always used cultural festivals and stories to better communicate and incarnate the truth of their own story. This in no way mitigates the truth of the gospel story, but the gospel story is a fulfillment of humanities greatest hopes. There is nothing that man can deliver in religion, philosophy, psychology, technology, rehab, or anything that can provide the hope of Jesus, who is born into our world as a humble servant who ultimately inaugurates a new kingdom, that reaches the humble and the poor and the hurting. Jesus’ story comes with centuries of prophecy, promise and anticipation.

Hope’s Journey (Luke 1:39-41)
Mary has just accepted her glorious fate (See Luke 1:38) in humble obedience, and her life will never be the same. Our passage says she, “Arose and went with haste into the hill country.” Maybe it was a time to be with familiar faces and remove herself from the stress that would most likely follow her for the rest of her life. God has to do a miracle to show Joseph the truth, but it is apparent that most people did not believe that Mary was a virgin with child (See John 8:41), and as a matter of fact the rumor has always been that Mary had sex with a Roman guard named Pantera. Being in Christ brings forth a hope that is beyond imagination, and beyond a hope that ends here on earth with your own life. Can you imagine Mary’s life, and can you imagine holding her son’s limp body in her arms wondering, “Where is the hope?” The hope God offers is a surprising hope! There is a paradox in the Christian story of Hope. This hope comes with death. Mary’s joy, was a life of suffering, and her hope came with a price. We so often look for hope in short term solution, because the hope the gospel promises comes with death (Of ourselves) and sacrifice (Of our time, talent and treasure). This is what it means to “Know the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.”

Hope’s Song Part 1: Elizabeth’s Song (Luke 1:42-45)
Our passage tells us that Elizabeth is “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” and she breaks into song blessing Mary, and God, and reminding Mary that she is blessed because God has found favor in her and because of Her “belief” that there would be a fulfillment of the promise. Mary and Elizabeth were poor, but their joy came in knowing that Jesus came to overcome the evil and oppression that enslaves others, and creates poverty and destruction in this world. They were aware that Jesus is the one to fulfill Isaiah 61:1-2, and that He was there to bring forth a kingdom that would reward the humble and judge the proud oppressors; but this would come through believing “That there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Was this always easy for her? After all Mark seems to indicate that not even his own kinsmen always believed in Him (See Mark 3:21, 31-35). And it is possible (Given the context) that Mary may have had her moments of doubt??

Hope’s Song Part 2: Mary’s Song; The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56)
This song is known as the “Magnificat,” which are the Latin words expressing her exaltation and praise of the Lord in verse forty six. This song is reminiscent of so many other women who gloried in their pregnancies (1 Samuel 2:1-10; Genesis 21:6-7), and a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His promise (See too Isaiah 54:1-5). Mary’s song is filled with her memory of the many Psalms she uses to construct her praise toward God for His favor upon her, and His fulfillment of the promises He had made to her forefathers. Her praise and her glory is to God for the fact that He has sent His Son and He has brought forth His kingdom, incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. This is the fulfillment of many prophecies and God’s promise to redeem this world of sin and the destruction it has caused. Jesus’ birth story is a story of humility, because ultimately power is gained through weakness in this upside down kingdom.

…to the Heart
If our hope is in anything but the coming of our Lord Jesus and Christ, and the joy that produces in our lives, then we will be living under a “Secondary” and inferior hope, that will only produce a momentary hope and sense of meaning. What are you “Hoping” for? What story is building your trust, and promising to deliver joy, happiness, a new identity?? Is the Jesus story a passé mythology, told once a year in order to assuage the guilt of a spending nation? Or is this story still the defining story in your life? IS the Jesus event, the story that dominates your story, or is it another story competing against many others in a world still waiting for what it’s looking for?

I pray as we consider the Jesus story this time of year, we consider the consequences of that story; lives transformed to bring Him glory by being enraptured with the joy He gives us, so we can in turn, lavish blessings on others. During our advent time, we are requesting that you seriously consider what you “Need” and refrain from spending on just what you want, so that you can bless others with the money saved. Below is information re: the “Advent Conspiracy” that can help you think through this.

The Advent Conspiracy
The “Advent Conspiracy” is a reminder to believers to “Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All.” Christmas has become a shameful ode to capitalism and materialism, and have replaced the Hope of the gospel, with the materialistic hope of more stuff. We have been duped into believing that hope comes from what we (The ones that are hopeless) create. We live in a “Please me now” culture that has an insatiable desire for more. Advertisers promise way more than they can deliver, and christmas has become their “Holy” season. The advent conspiracy helps us recall that this simple gospel story is the ultimate story offering more joy and hope than any of man’s hopes can deliver. Let’s work in our Missional Communities to recapture this meaning, and to find out who we can bless this Christmas with the money that we are saving from spending less on ourselves. If you can’t find anyone to bless, then please consider giving your money to “Living Water International” (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/water/), and agency that helps bring clean water to the millions who are without it (1.8 Million people die every year from unclean water related illnesses. This figure includes 3900 children a day).

To find out more about “The Advent Conspiracy” please go to: http://www.adventconspiracy.org/

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1 comment so far

  1. dena & Bill Dillon on

    Okay, so I’m not one to typically blog or post comments such as this online, but we just want you to know how much we’ve missed your preaching, Mike. We so appreciate how you “rightly divide the word of TRUTH,” without pulling any punches or trying to softcoat anything. We have learned so much from you, and we believe you are a valuable and much needed voice at Harambee (Soma Communities expression at …) We know you are busy and have plenty of irons in the fire, but we just want you to know that hearing from you on Sunday is an experience neither of us wants to miss, and we pray we have many, many more opportunities to learn from you. This sermon was, again, very powerful and gut-reaching, and as usual, we’ll keep munching on it for many days to come! Thanks for your depth and wisdom and commitment to Truth!

    Blessings,
    Bill & Dena Dillon


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