“Ready, Set…” 

SCRIPTURE:  Luke 1:46-55

STANDING ON THE EDGE

All week, as I thought about Mary’s Song and the images that it brought up in my mind, I kept coming back to the idea of standing on the edge of something, looking with wonder and awe and expectation.  There have been a number of moments in my life where I was standing on the edge of something amazing.

I want to take you through a slideshow of some of my images, and then I will invite you to share some of your own.  You might have noticed that I don't actually have a projector or a screen this morning, and my slide remote is actually a dog training clicker...  So I invite you to use your imaginations with me.

·      [CLICK]  Devil’s Punchbowl  This first one is me with my family, on vacation on the Oregon Coast, standing at the edge of the Devil’s Punchbowl, watching the waves crash against the rocks below and the water and foam swirl around.  I stand amazed at what God can create in nature.

·      [CLICK]  Old Faithful  This is another one from a family vacation.  We are at Yellowstone, standing at the edge of Old Faithful.  The pamphlet says that it is supposed to erupt every 91 minutes, but it’s already been 90 minutes and…  AH!  There it goes!  I stand in awe of God’s beauty and consistency.

·      [CLICK]  Wedding  And this one is me standing at the front of the sanctuary, trying to stand still while at the same time trying to keep my knees from locking, which ends up with me swaying awkwardly from foot to foot.  I almost look like I’m dancing to the processional music as Crystal comes walking down the aisle.  I stand, feeling blessed by the love that God has put in my life.

·      [CLICK]  Bay View UMC Announcement  Here I am almost two years ago, standing in the living room of my apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.  I’m on the phone with Daniel Foster, and he is telling me about this little church called Bay View United Methodist Church, and he thinks that I would be a good fit as a pastor there.  I’m nervous, but extremely excited.  I stand hopeful about what God has in store for me and for this unknown congregation.

MORE IMAGES

What are some of your images?  Where have you found yourself standing on the edge of something amazing, looking on with wonder, awe, and expectation?

  • [CLICK – Keep going for 5 or so shares, as long as people seem engaged and without going on too long]

[CLICK] MARY’S SONG

This is an image of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Just a few days earlier, she had received word from the angel Gabriel that she was pregnant with the Son of God.  As you can imagine, it was initially an incredibly shocking bit of news.  Her first reaction was stunned disbelief – she responded to the angel, “How can this be?!”

After her shock wore off and the angel explained a few more details, Mary accepted her role as the bearer of God’s son…  But Luke’s recounting of the story doesn’t necessarily leave the impression that she was excited about it.  Luke’s Gospel shares that “Mary went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country” to visit her relative Elizabeth.  Elizabeth and the child in her womb both immediately jump for joy and proclaim Mary’s blessedness.

Mary stands with Elizabeth, and together they stand on the edge of something amazing.  Together, they gaze over the edge and see that God is on the verge of something big in their midst, something that will change the world forever.

As we look onto this image of Mary, we see her lips slowly curling into a smile as she is filled with joy and expectation of what it is that God has planned for her and what God has in store for the whole world.  She may not have all of the details figured out, she may still have more questions than answers…  But she trusts.  She chooses to believe the crazy story that the angel told her.  She chooses to have hope in the future of God’s people.  And she has such faith in what God has promised that, even while she stands on the edge looking toward this promise, she proclaims that God’s promises have already been fulfilled.  Mary sings:

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,

   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

   and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him

   from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

   and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

   and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

   in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

SINGING WITH MARY

Mary’s song invites us to be a part of God’s ongoing work in the world.  Mary’s song invites us to sing along as we wait in expectation of the new things that God is doing in our own midst.  Mary’s song calls us to step forward and stand on the edge of something amazing, gazing with awe, wonder, and expectation.

[CLICK]  The final image is us, as we sit here today. 

When I look at this image, I see a congregation that opens its arms and its heart with a warm welcome to anybody who walks through its doors.  This is a place where everybody is invited, valued, and truly loved.

I see people actively looking for ways to reach out into the community and share the love of God.  A congregation that is working for the transform the community and the world.  If you look closely in this picture, you can see the box of donations for the “Share the Holiday Spirit” program, where we have stepped up and given an overflowing bin full of food, as well as almost $300 in gift cards to help assist 23 families in our community this Christmas.  It’s a congregation that will be sending $270 to UMCOR to help with typhoon relief in the Philippines.

What else do you see as you look at this image?  [RESPONSES?]

This is an image of a whole group of people who are standing on the edge of something amazing.  May our souls continue to magnify the Lord.

 

[PRAYER & OFFERING CONSECRATION]

 

CONFIRMATION

I have to admit that there are two people in the congregation this morning who I have had on my mind as I’ve been reflecting on the idea of “standing on the edge of something amazing”.  Our confirmands, Adrian Hoare and Callan Nus, are standing on the edge of the next step of their journeys of faith and commitment to God and to the Church.  This morning, they will come forward to take the vows of confirmation and join as professing members of the church.

I have been trying to think of a specific moment that I could share as an image of who these young men are and how I see God working in their lives…  But I couldn’t come up with any single moment to share.  For the past 8 weeks, Callan and Adrian have been faithfully coming to the church on Thursday evenings, to learn about the United Methodist Church and discuss some really deep questions of faith. 

Each week, I was really impressed with how seriously they took their responsibility to learn about and claim their faith for themselves.  I can say with confidence and great joy that they are both young men of deep faith and strong commitment to God.  I am excited for what God has in store for them and through them as they continue to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.  They give me great hope for the future of the church.

Adrian and Callan, I invite you and your families to come forward.

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