God’s dream


Instead, Homily  Advent 3 December 12, 2021   Jan Savory

Scripture: Luke 1: 39-56

After the Angel left

Last week we heard the story of the annunciation, which ended, first with Mary agreeing to bear the child Jesus, and then with the angel leaving her abruptly, to figure out what all this meant. Poor Mary. How different it would have been if the angel had remained to guide her through the following days and weeks. But he didn’t stay.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary doubted that the event had happened. Did she really see an angel? Was she really pregnant without having had intercourse? Where was the angel now? Why didn’t he come and confirm all this for her? Did she dream the whole thing?

Visit to Elizabeth

Mary shares God's dream with Elizabeth
Mary visits Elizabeth

But the angel had mentioned her cousin Elizabeth who, according to the angel, was also pregnant although beyond the age for childbearing. If she couldn’t ask the angel, Mary did the next best thing. She went to visit Elizabeth, to see if she was really pregnant.  How comforting it must have been to Mary that Elizabeth confirmed what the angel had said, and understood and realized the significance of this miracle.

Thy will be done

But going back to last week’s reading; As I listened, I realized that Jesus’ life begins and ends with giving in to God’s will. His life started when Mary, an unwed mother who could be stoned to death for her pregnancy, agreed to bear the Messiah: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”.   And it ended with Jesus praying in Gethsemane “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” 

God has a plan

Growing up l had uncomfortable feelings about praying “Thy will be done”. We had a mantra in Sunday School: God has a plan, and I have a part. Further, as I grew older and started attending the adult services, we had a covenant service on the first Sunday of each year. During the service, we prayed Wesley’s covenant Prayer, which includes the words:

I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

Does God have  a plan for me?

It felt very holy and noble as I prayed it, but how would I know what God wanted of me? And what would God want me to do with my life? What if I didn’t want to do that? Later, after I was married, I questioned, what would happen if my husband didn’t agree with God’s plans for me? Would I have to choose?

Thankfully I had some good teachers and mentors in both in person and in books. Slowly, I learned to see it differently. God doesn’t micro manage our lives. We have freewill, but that doesn’t limit us to just saying yes or no to God; rather, it enables us to find our own way to serve God. I now believe that God has a vision rather than a step-by-step plan.

God’s dream

When I worked at the bank, we were planning a new loan approval system. Rather than laying down rules, our boss told us: “I see a wonderful beach. Your job is to help me get there”. Yes, I know.  God’s vision isn’t a loan system. God’s “wonderful beach”, Rather, God’s vision, God’s dream is a Kingdom of justice, peace and joy. Through the ages, prophets and saints have caught glimpses of this vision. Isaiah has the vision that people “shall beat their swords into ploughshares, …, neither shall they learn war any more.” Amos wanted “justice [to] roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”.  Micah called for the Israelites “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”

Jesus and Mary knew God’s dream

Jesus spent his ministry teaching people about God’s Kingdom. The beatitudes describe it; his parables teach about it, likening it to a banquet, a farmer sowing seed, a generous employer, a forgiving father, yeast, and so much more.

And Mary saw this Kingdom. Today’s reading contained her beautiful description, we call it the Magnificat. We heard it read a few minutes ago, and will hear it again later in the service, sung this time, so I won’t repeat it.

We  can see God’s Dream

Through the years since, many others have glimpsed this vision, although as humans, we see only parts of it. Because, it is not just a vision for prophets and saints. We, ordinary humans, can see and follow this dream as we read, listen and meditate. Remember that Jesus told us the kingdom has come near. And he sent his followers out to spread the message, to continue his work of spreading the kingdom.

I have a part in God’s dream

The Kingdom of God has come near and it’s up to us to bring it nearer. We are invited to be the vehicle by which God’s dream becomes a reality.  And further, God doesn’t dictate the how or insist we do it a certain way. God invites us to make our own decision on how we help fulfil the dream. To me that is such an incredible, improbable idea; only our incredible, improbable God could work that way. The God whose son was born in a stable to a poor teenager, the God who was crucified for being a subversive influence, the God who loves unconditionally and prodigiously.

God has a dream, and I have a part, or as St Theresa of Avila wrote:

Christ has no body now but yours

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.

Thank you, God for our part in your dream. Amen