Sermon 181 Joy in Connection

Story of Connection from My Life

Wonky Donkey with our small group after David's Death

Luke 1:24-45

24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me in this time, when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Elizabeth's Story

  • For five months she remained in seclusion
  • Reading between the lines: Guilt about something good happening?
    • Coming out to parents twice. The first time it goes poorly. Everyone pretends it didn't happen. Back into the closet.
    • Coming out of a bad relationship or bad boss situation. And then coming into something good—and feeling guilty about it.

Mary's Story

  • The angels says, "Rejoice." But she was confused.
    • Relatable. Sometimes it's hard to take in good news. Or we don't believe it.
  • The angel tells Mary about Elizabeth
    • Yes the annunciation is about the incarnation. And also, Gabriel mentions Elizabeth.
    • God offers Mary a refuge; and Elizabeth connection
  • There's so much to say about Mary, but one thing I'll bring up today:
    • The "Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you."
    • "Spirit come upon you," is the same language used in the Hebrew Bible to talk about leaders coming into power over Israel—prophets, judges, and monarches. When the Spirit comes upon someone, it empowers them to speak the words of God and to lead the people of God. And the first person in the New Testament to have the Spirit come upon them is Mary.
    • Overshadow is also an important word in the Hebrew word. The wings of the cherubim overshadow the center of the Ark of the Covenant, where the nexus/locus of God's presence was in the tabernacle and temple. And now, the power of the Most High overshadows Mary. The epicenter of God's manifest presence, found in a young woman in an occupied territory.

Mary and Elizabeth Together

  • Mary shows up, pulls Elizabeth out of seclusion, into joy
  • Cole Arthur Riley:
    • "Joy, which once felt as frivolous as love to me, has become a central virtue in my spirituiality. I am convinced that if we are to survive the wait of justice and libereation, we must be come people capable of delight. And people wh ohave been delighted."
    • "There is so much that is worthy of lament, or rage. Joy doesn't preclude these emotional habits—it invites them. Joy situates every emotion within itself. It grounds them so that one isn't overindulged while the others lie starving. Joy doesn't repalces any emotion; it holds them all and keeps any one of them from swallowing us whole. Society has failed to understand this. When it tells us to find joy in suffering, it is telling us to let it go, to move on, to smile through it. Buy joy says, Hold on to your sorrow. It can rest safely here."
  • Willie James Jennings: "Joy is an act of resistance against despair and its forces."

Invitation and Challenge

Connection can come in lots of ways

  • To ourselves
  • To God
  • To nature
  • Cross-generational
Anthony Parrott

Anthony Parrott

Washington, DC