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Bo Stern Brady: Living With Hope, Luke 1:46-55

December 20, 2021

Audio Recording

A Renewed Christmas
Bo Stern Brady: Living With Hope, Luke 1:46-55

Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us

00:06 And my little process of trying to decorate our house for Christmas and looking at all the Christmas things out there, all the Christmas like paraphernalia. I found that we like to put three words on things that are for Christmas. One of the words, you know, we put them on ornaments and put them on Christmas cards. We cross stitch them on throw pillows. one of them is peace, which is great. That's a great word. Another one is joy. Pastor. Ben talked about that last Sunday. and you know what? The other one is love is a good one. Oh, I forgot about that one, but what's the other one. Hope. Yeah. Hope is the other one. We associate these words with Christmas and I was kind of trying to think of why, what makes us automatically pick those words, joy to the world. Peace on earth.

00:52 I think some of it honestly is Christmas carols. Like we get a lot of our theology from Christmas carols. This is the only explanation for why your nativity set probably has three wise men. Like it, doesn't say that in the Bible, actually. That's why your three Wiseman are snuggled up in the major right next to your little drummer boy, you know, you did. We take a lot from songs. The songs are powerful. They embed things in our, in our memory. Even if it isn't necessarily true, we learn a lot from songs and they're powerful. And so I was trying to look at where does hope show up in Christmas carols? When, when do we sing about hope? And I really thought I'd find it everywhere. Like I dug deep. I went into like the deep cuts of the Christmas Carol versus the ones we don't sing.

01:41 And I only found it in two songs. One is angels from the realm of glory, which is a Booker. If you find that on your Caroline list, by the way, that's a hard song to sing. But it says this saints before the alter bending, watching long in hope and something else watching long in hope and fear, suddenly the Lord descending in his temple shall appear. The other one is a little town of Bethlehem. And it says the hopes and fears of all the years are met in the tonight. There's this thing where hope and fear tends to get packaged up together. And I didn't really realize it before, but when I was looking at this message, I thought this is an interesting concept. That one story or one song or one life or one heart can contain the depths of hope and the depths of fear.

02:38 It can, we, we are, we are both. And I think a lot of times we really want to be those people that we do not fear. And, and we have like this faith that it dissolves fear on contact and we are strong and we're warriors and we're walking into our future with this confidence and courage and all of that stuff. But I really suspect that we are all just an amalgamation of hope and fear and doubt and frustration and wonder and a little bit of confusion. We're all sort of a, a blend of all of these things. We see it in the life of Mary, who we've been looking at for the past few weeks. And I am astounded by this woman. I am astounded by this young girl who has no privilege to her name, who exists in this space where she isn't, she isn't extraordinary.

03:36 Her life isn't really special, but it is on track. Like she is a Jewish girl and she is set to marry a good Jewish boy. She's got it figured out. She's going somewhere. She's got the bridal showers plan. She's saving up, she's doing her thing. She's building a home. This is going to be her life. And then an angel comes and she is entirely up, ended by his word. Pastor. Steve talked about it two weeks ago, the disruption and how do we handle disruption when it comes? And Mary is such a beautiful example of that, except I think that we've painted her in such beautiful tones and we've given her such a soft meek kind of thing. And we made her look perfect in so many ways that we've forgotten that she is one of us. And so the angel comes to her. He makes an announcement.

04:24 He says, greetings, Mary, you are highly favored. The Lord is with you. And that is quite a greeting. Can you even imagine Mary God likes you and he's with you. I mean, you'd be hard pressed to find better news than that. If an angel shows up in your car on the way home, I hope that the news is something similar. God is here and he is happy to see you. That's what I hope you hear. That's what Mary hears from an actual angel. And what is her response? The very next words in this passage are, and she was greatly troubled at his words. She is not able to just absorb this news. She is not able to just absorb the fact that a bigger than life, God has shown up on her doorstep. And I'm thinking in her mind, she's like, I am highly favored.

05:19 This can't be good. Something is about the other shoe is about to drop. So Mary, our hero, highly favored carrier of the presence of God is also full of fear. The angel goes on to teller. All that is about to happen. He doesn't tell her when, and he doesn't tell her how, but he tells her it's going to happen. She's going to have the son of God and name him. Jesus. And his kingdom will never end. It's beautiful, but wow, these words up and her life, what was once a well-planned future is now just a huge question, mark. And it's not just will Joseph be mad at me? Will he divorce me? It's also will they stone me? It's also, will I be a single mom in a world where women can not survive on their own? It's also will. I will. No one ever marry me for the duration of my life.

06:19 Do you know what kind of future existed for a woman in the ancient Aries culture in this era, if they have no man to hitch their car to. And so she's faced with really a lot of big concerns all at once. And then the angel drops this little line into the story. He tells her what's going to happen. And then he gives her this line and we're going to talk more about this line in a minute. But he says to her, even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age. And she who ha, who was said to be unable to conceive is in her six month. Now, Elizabeth, this is a kind of garden, variety, miracle. She's got a, she's got a husband. She's okay. She's having a kid that she's always wanted to have. This is not the same thing, but the angel tells Mary about it.

07:06 He does not tell Mary to go and see Elizabeth, but that's exactly what she does. The language is very clear that she almost immediately drops what she's doing. And she makes the trip to go see her cousin, Elizabeth, the trip is a hundred miles and it's dangerous. She is going to go see right away. Immense. See if Elizabeth is pregnant. And when she sees her a, the baby jumps in Elizabeth's womb, and Elizabeth says, you are the mother of the Messiah you are without being told. She knows. And so when this happens, Mary realizes, oh, the angel said it will happen. But now we know it has happened. This has happened. I mean, this is the coolest pregnancy test I ever, that was very cool. And so Mary gets confirmation that what the angel was saying was true. What she hoped was true is true and has happened.

08:05 We know what Mary, what Elizabeth does and tell her, you know, how many questions does Elizabeth answer about Mary's future in this moment, zero Elizabeth, doesn't say, you know, and, and, and your parents are going to be just fine with it. All your friends are gonna think you're awesome. People are gonna find you very cool that she doesn't tell her. Joseph is going to hang in there. She doesn't tell her any of those things. She doesn't answer any other question. Oh, she tells her is God is inside of you. What God spoke to you is true. You can take it to the bank. And the response of Mary is to burst into song, Mary woman of faith, Mary, who knows the scripture, we'll see it in a minute, starts to sing. And I think this is the most beautiful and incredible. The song of Mary it's called the men.

08:57 Magnificat to me is one of the most incredible texts ever written. And it's banned in several countries because the text is so subversive. It's about pulling down strongholds of power and setting up the humble exalting, the meek setting God's throne in order. It's all of these things that this young girl is singing about. Dietrich. Bonhoeffer says the song of Mary is the oldest advent him. It is at once. The most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary advent, him ever sung. This is not the gentle tender dreamy. Mary whom we sometimes see in paintings. This song has none of the sweetness Daljit or even playful tones of some of our Christmas carols. It is instead of hard, strong inexorable song about the power of God and the powerlessness of humankind. This is the song of Mary. This is what she says, my soul glorifies, the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God. My savior for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

10:08 Excuse me. From now on all generations will call me blessed for the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm. He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He is brought down rulers from their Thrones, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but he has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever. Just as he promised our ancestors, this song is filled with so much hope. This is Mary singing about a reality that she really hopes is true. It's not true yet. God hasn't done this yet. At least not in the way that Israel is hoping, but she sings about it as if it is true.

11:05 And I wonder sometimes when we were talking this morning about Christmas is a season of hope, but hope for what I give me. And I had a lot of hopes when I was a kid. I hope for lazy Daisy doll. I hope for things to happen. That didn't happen some that did. But if you ask a thousand people, what are you hoping for this Christmas? What is the hope of Christmas? I think you'd get a thousand answers. You might get some that are similar. Five people might say, I really hope for world peace, but when you drill down their version of world, peace might be different than your version of world peace. And so what is the hope that we're looking for? What is hope even mean in the Bible? It's such a nebulous word. If we let it be, but for me, my favorite scripture about hope is actually the verse that we use to talk about faith.

11:55 It is Hebrews 11. One faith is the substance of things. Hope for the evidence of things not seen. So faith and hope are inextricably intertwined. There is something you hope to be true, but you can see it just yet. Faith gives you evidence that what you hope to be true is true, or might be true, or probably will come true before you can actually experience it without faith. We would give up on hope. And when we have no hope, we have no need for faith hope and faith walk together. So I am someone who has AVO phobia, which is fear of flying. It is a, I, I think I have greater than average fear of flying. Although I fly a lot. 40% of people in the world are afraid of fly. 2% of those 40% are so afraid of flying. They won't fly. They won't step foot on a plane.

12:57 I am not in that group. I travel a lot. I want to get where I want to go. And that doesn't mean I enjoy it. I just want to get there. And so the reason that I get on an airplane and you know, to get on an airplane, you really have to trust. You have to trust a plane and a pilot who's to trust those two things. And so in order for me to get on a plane, I don't do it because an engineer from Boeing sits down with me and takes me through the engine mechanics and the love aerodynamics. And this is how it works and explains it to me because I'm telling you still every single time, 100% of the time as I'm in the plane and it starts to, you know, it's going down the runway, I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine.

13:43 It starts to lift up off the thing. And we start to get taller than the buildings. And I say, in my mind, this is against God's plan. This is, we were not meant to hurdle through space at astounding rates of speed. We weren't. Now this is not what we were intended to be. And, but I still do it. Not because I understand the plane. I don't not because I trust the pilot, not because he came out to visit me before I got on his plane and said, trust me, girl, I'm great at this. And I have a lot to live for too is not because of that. I get on a plane because as I am walking down a terminal to get on the plane, I see other people who are getting off, Isaiah, other people who survived, they got on a plane and they landed.

14:30 And they are the evidence of my hope that planes do not crash there. The evidence I need, I don't need a blueprint. I don't need to understand how the plane flies not going to help me. I don't need. And, and here's the thing my willingness to step on the plane is not small faith. It may seem small to you. It's not small. It's not small. Anytime you step on a plane, it is life or death. There are no fender benders on airplane accidents. You're trusting your whole life into the care of a machine. You can explain why it works and into the hands of a pilot. You probably wouldn't trust with the bank account password, your all life. Why? Because you have enough evidence. And so when I get on an airplane, I'm going to tell you this fact, it's not pretty. I know that doesn't make me happy on an airplane.

15:24 When there is turbulence, I am on my husband, like clinging to him. I want to call my kids and tell them goodbye. I have no confidence that I am going to land safely, but I'm on the plane. I have no choice. Right? And so this is life with God. We just need evidence to know that he is good and that he can be trusted. And I don't know, a couple of weeks ago, pastor Steve quoted Abraham and it said Abraham was fully convinced that the thing God had promised he could do. I'm just going to be honest with you today, because why not? I don't think I've been fully convinced of anything in my whole life. I'm not a fully convincible person. I don't think I've ever had 100% faith in anything. But I think that I have had 51% faith in a lot of things enough to get me on the plane because people who don't get on the plane get stuck in an airport and who wants to live like that.

16:27 And so we see this in the life of Mary. We see her be willing to lay down some hope and let other hope live with the evidence that she can see that God has for her. Mary has a couple of hopes at play here. Actually, she's got personal hopes. She, and I don't know what they all are, but I can assume some because I am a woman too. I think she probably hopes for a good marriage. I think she hopes for good, healthy, safe children. I think she probably hopes for a future where her children will care for her because in this culture, she needs that every woman needs that. I think she hopes for a happy life, but then she also hopes for the redemption of Israel and she hopes for freedom from oppression and she hopes they won't always be under the thumb of Rome.

17:19 And she hopes from Messiah. These two things that Mary hopes for as an angel stands to her. He gives her the assurance of one while taking from her, the assurance of the other shit that's she watches her personal hopes, crumble. And she says yes to the eternal hope of what God is doing in her world. If I can trust you with my nation, I can trust you with my life. If I can trust you with my government, I can trust you with my child. There's enough evidence to get on the plane. There's enough to move all of our hubs. Cause what do you do when you've got hopes that are contraindicated? What happens when you hope for one thing? When your hope for one thing means something else has to die? I think that's when we move all our chips in a one square that's when we say all my hope is in this, God can be trusted.

18:19 He can that's really, I I'm frustrated sometimes that I've spent my whole adult life studying theology and all of my theology is reduced to four words, but there you have it. God can be trusted. He can, he can be trusted with the keys, to my car and the keys to my country. He can be trusted with my heart and the hearts of my kids. He can be trusted even when money can't, even when relationships can't, even when our government can't, even when our physical health can't, God can be trusted. As the angel tells Mary that her future is about to be disrupted. She is onboard. She says to him, be it unto me, according to your word. She says this before she has any confirmation, but she does need a little evidence. I think that's why Gabriel gives it to her. Then he says, your cousin, Elizabeth has conceived.

19:12 Here's a little evidence. Here's a little something you can look at. You could take this to the bank. God's in this. I think the only reason this is included in Gabriel's announcement is because he knows Mary needs it. That is the evidence that what she hopes for could be true. When Mary gets the evidence from Elizabeth, she sings that God has scattered the proud and lifted the humble. And like I said, he hasn't done all these things yet, but she now has the evidence. She needs to be fully confident that God can be trusted. There is so much treasure and buried in the Christmas story embedded in the Christmas story. And I don't know if we really need it. I think we need a lot of significant details about the resurrection we need to know and believe and see the miracles around that. I think really, we, we could be okay with a Christmas story that just said, God gave Mary a baby and the baby grew up to be Jesus.

20:10 I think we'd probably be okay with that. You know, who needed all of the miraculous things embedded in the Christmas story is Mary. She needed constant evidence that this was divine, that it was holy, that it was God's will. Elizabeth confirms the word of the angel and that's evidence for her. Joseph believes her and marries her that's evidence that God has taken care of her could, Mary has survived as the mother of Jesus had Joseph not married her. Sure, but this is part of the evidence. The shepherds see angels and go to tell her the Wiseman, follow a star and go to her Anna and Simeon in the temple. Affirm that her baby is the Messiah. At first sight, all of these things happen. And then in Luke, two 19, it gives us this brilliant little sentence it says, and Mary pondered, all of these things in her heart.

21:12 I like to say that now and Mary treasured up all of the evidence in her heart, because she knew that she would need it. She would need it. When our little baby Messiah wouldn't sleep through the night, she would need it. When her baby projectile vomited, she would need it. When she hit the terrible twos and he didn't seem anything like the king of the world, she would need it when he starts to grow. And he hits that awkward phase, awkward phase, every single kid hits, you know, she would need it when he goes missing at the temple and she's lost him. And this is the original home alone story. I think she would need it. When he starts to draw a crowd, people start to follow him and believe him. And all of a sudden he's a big deal. She would need it. When her own children wouldn't believe that he was who he said he would, she would need it.

22:13 When the crowd starts to turn on him, she would need the evidence. When she stands at the foot of the cross and watches the blood of her baby, pour down on the ground, she would need it as she watches him, give her into the care of another man. And as she watches him, draw his last breath and it looks like the dream is dead. She ponders and treasures. The evidence that she knows God is good. And she knows he can't be trusted. And she knows he's at work, doing something bigger than her eyes can see. It's all she's got. I do you think in your human brain that Mary had no pain or fear or confusion in these moments? I think that's crazy. Of course she had all of that. Of course there was all kinds of evidence to the contrary. Of course, there were a million things screaming at her to shift her focus to the fact that maybe this isn't true, maybe it isn't going to turn out the way God said it would Mary chose to focus on the evidence that confirmed her truest hope.

23:25 And we all get to choose the same thing we do. We get to choose on. What will I focus? Faith is not a denial of the facts. Faith is not a denial of the emotion you feel. And we need to stop telling each other that we need to stop. Having people just get over all that stuff. It doesn't make it any easier for us to say, I shouldn't feel the way I'm feeling. You're going to feel the way you're feeling. You can feel the way you feel, just because your emotions are legit. They're valid, but God but faith, but there's evidence that there's something bigger at work that your eyes cannot see. And so what I focus on and what I tell myself is a big, big deal. Mary was asked to give up her own dreams on the alter of God's agenda. The song of Mary shows us exactly where she points her hope into the evidence that God can be trusted immediately.

24:25 And ultimately, do you feel hopeless today or have you ever grab some evidence, gather the evidence of your life? God is constantly telling the children of Israel, this and the new Testament. Remember what I did before? Yeah. It looks like your back is up against the wall. Remember that red seas situation. Remember when you didn't think you could do it. Remember when your grandfathers and your great-grandfathers were stuck and they didn't think they'd survive. And they did gather some evidence where do you get it? You get it from your history. You get it from the Bible and you get it from the lives of the people around you who know God is faithful. You gather all the evidence you need to get on that plane. You gather the evidence to do the next thing that God is asking you to do, because you know, he can be trusted.

25:17 We don't invest our hope in everything working out the way we wanted to. That's just wishing and wishing is okay, but that's just wishing we invest our hope in the rock. Solid fact that God knows what he's doing. And he is good at his job. We invest our hope and knowing that we won't walk into disappointment alone and in his presence, we will find beauty and treasure and life. We have enough hope to step foot on that plane and to move out of the terminal. And it doesn't have to look pretty. It just has to get us going. It just has to get me to a place where I can say, God, I trust you with my life. I may be screaming a little bit. I may be clutching the arm of the person next to me, but I trust you that you're going to get me there.

26:07 A few years ago, a friend of mine, as she was preparing for the best years of her life, retirement is what I'm told are the best years of your life. she and her husband were so excited about this season in her life. And her husband died one day just died. And, my friend, Cheryl, we worked together and I watched her come to work and show up for the work of God in her life. I watched her be willing to still laugh. I watched her be willing to come and cry. I watched her be honest, but I watched her be supernaturally carried by the grace of God through that time of loss in her life. And I remember watching her thinking, I could never survive that I would not survive it. She is in Christ. It's incredible to watch how she, she must be special because I couldn't have done it.

27:09 But then as she was walking through that journey, my husband was diagnosed with ALS and we started our own journey. And there was something about Cheryl's life that it was like she was getting off the plane just as I was getting on. And I could look and I could say, I know that is part of my evidence to she lived it out and she owns it. But that's part of what I can look at and say, I know God can be trusted with my story too. I know it. Some of what you're living right now is not just evidence for you. It's evidence for the people around you. And it's so important. I mean, cause I'm telling you, I can stand on this stage today and assure you or prove to you that God exists. I can do it theologically. I can't do it in the Greek and Hebrew.

27:58 I can't break it down in textbooks. I can't show you the blueprint to the plane. I can't convince you to trust the pilot. In fact, if you're thinking that's your job in the world to convince everyone, yeah, I'm going to just take that burden off of you today. All you have to do is live out the evidence of God's faithfulness in your life. This is who God has been to me and I promise you can take it to the bank. He has shown up in the dark nights, in the hard times and the long fights he has shown up and he has held me through what I didn't think I could survive because he is faithful. And there is a box that I possess in which 49% is fear. But then there is something that keeps me moving toward him, always, always toward him. And it is the evidence in my life.

28:47 And I hope it's evidence for you too. I watched those kids and those gifts and they're wrapped and they represent the hope of a child on one holiday on one probably pretty cruddy holiday. And I prayed in my chair, God, let that be evidenced to them. It doesn't have to be the evidence of the certainty of the love of God, but let that be evidence of the possibility of love of God. Let it be something that they hold and then wrap and let it go in the box marked 51% that gets them moving toward him. That gets them believing toward him. That gets them set on a lifetime that is going to be filled with. Let's just be honest, a lot of pain and heartache, but so much hope because life is beautiful and Jesus is taking us somewhere and it's going to be good in the end. It's gonna be good. So God, we ask you today for your hope inside of our fear, we ask God that you would inspire and, and, move us toward the reality of truth, the way life, the hope, the hope that we have in you. God move us toward not certainty, but the evidence always tore the evidence of your goodness and your grace and your mercy and your eternal plan for us, move us toward knowing that you can be trusted. We love you and we worship you. And we thank you for the baby king that made us hopeful people that can be, can sing songs of deliverance because you are good and you are God and we are yours and your name. We pray. Amen.