The Courage of Mary 

Last Sunday evening we concluded our "Encounters with Jesus" series based on the book by Timothy Keller. The evening was centred around a number of thoughts and discussion questions which makes it difficult to record and put on our sermon's page. So... here is what we discussed, and a number of brief thoughts...

To warm up and get us talking with one another I asked:
Q. Would you rather have vinegar for eye drops or sandpaper for toilet paper?
Let us know below in the comments section!

We then watched this clip.
Q. What was the last movie (or TV/Book) that caused you to have an emotional response?
It is natural to respond with a smile to good news, or in tears to bad news. What is our response to the Gospel? Surly it demands one? So often we get caught up in tradition and rituals when what we really need is to stop for a moment, and reflect on the gospel, to allow that to be the motivation for what we are doing and the choices we make.
This is the pattern that Mary follows in today's passage, she hears the gospel (like us, at this point she does not have a physical encounter with Jesus, but rather with his gospel message), and then she responds accordingly.

READ: Luke 1:26-45

Q. Have a look over the angels message to Mary... What is the Gospel? (Gospel = Good News)
Q. How would you tell the Gospel to an Alien from outer space who knows nothing of our culture and beliefs?

"What is the Gospel?" This question has divided Church in recent years, many have chosen to emphasis the Atonement as the Good News, others have emphasised the Kingdom of Heaven. Interestingly, the angel focuses on both of these elements. Verse 31 says "you shall call Him Jesus", Jesus simply means "the Lord saves". Then in verse 33 the angel talks about how His reign will have no end and that His Kingdom will be everlasting. Emphasising one of these elements is the same as looking at a painting an inch from the canvas, if we step back we can see a fuller, more complete gospel.
The Gospel is excellent news, it is important that we know it and each find our way of communicating it. It's message is also unique, religion focuses on how we can save ourselves, but the gospel is the good news that in Jesus, God has reached out to us. Can this message work in conjunction with other faiths? Or is there something truly unique here that requires a unique response?

Q. Don't all paths lead to God?

Q. What is our reasonable response to the gospel message?

Mary's response to the Gospel is both courageous and honest, take a look:
1. She thinks (v29, the word "wondered" is better translated as, "she reasoned"),
2. She doubts (v34, "how can this be?", reasonable doubt!)
3. She submits (v38, courageously! I mean, think of the social consequences to her accepting this message)
4. She connects with a Spirit Filled Community (v39-45)