I have, on more than one occasion, been called a dreamer by folks in the church. I remember when I first came to Britton Christian Church more than seventeen years ago. We began praying about where the Lord was leading us as a church and what He wanted us to do. Some of the things that surfaced, from our times of prayer and studying God’s Word together, were things that we had never done before. They were things that we had never even thought about before. Some felt that the direction the Lord was leading us was a dream, it couldn’t ever happen. Well, let the scoffers and cynics take note, God is the author of glorious dreams, He is the dream maker, He alone is able to make “reality,” what was once only a dream.
Our study this morning is about dreams. It is about a young girl who was chosen by God to deliver the hope of the world, the Messiah. She didn’t have many dreams as a kid; as a matter of fact the revelation that she was pregnant was probably her worst nightmare in the beginning. Mary was a young virgin who was planning on marrying a man named Joseph. Neither of them was anybody special in their community, but God chose them to be the earthly parents of the King of all creation. Won’t you turn to our Scripture for this morning found in Luke 1:39-56.
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” 46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name. 50His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” 56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. (Luke 1:39-56 NIV)
When the angel of God appeared to Mary and told her of the good news, the best that she could muster was a troubled heart. She didn’t jump up and down, she didn’t say, “Well, it is about time somebody recognized me.” She didn’t even say, “Thanks!” She was troubled. After all, it hadn’t been any time since Joseph had popped the big question and Mary had said, “Yes!” Boy was this going to blow her plans for a happy home. After the angel sensed her confusion he tried to calm her fears and share with her the tremendous blessing God was bestowing upon her. He said,
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33 NIV)
Talk about a great public relations guy! The angel took, what looked like a tragic situation in Mary’s eyes, and cast it in a totally different light! After the hearing the great sales pitch from the angel of the Lord, Mary said,
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:38 NIV)
It would be easy for us to stand in judgment and think to ourselves, “Why wouldn’t Mary express her gratitude, fall on her face, and worship God for the miracle He was knitting together in her womb?” I can understand the sheer shock Mary must have felt. I well remember one particular night I got home from class while I was still in school at Cameron University. Connie and I hadn’t been married too long at the time. We were still getting to know each other when I got home from class and she said, “Guess what? We are going to have a baby!” After I picked myself up off the ground, I was barely able to speak. I knew that I was supposed to jump up and down, put a party hat on and throw confetti in the air, but I was so overwhelmed by the thought of my soon coming responsibilities as a parent that I could hardly speak.
What we need to notice about Mary is that, although she may not be jumping up and down with joy, she is surrendered to the Lord’s will. She could not have understood such a visit from the angel of God, but she did surrender. Taking into consideration the consequences which Mary might face by society, it would have been far more reasonable for her to reject the angel’s statement, but Mary surrendered to God’s will as His servant. To be God’s servant, Mary had to expose herself to the misunderstanding of Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25), to the almost certain loss of her reputation and the curse of her being considered a sinful woman, and to the possible death by stoning according to Deuteronomy 22:23-24. Mary risked it all to surrender to the will of God.
I believe that it wasn’t until Mary went to the home of her relative, Elizabeth, who was pregnant herself, that Mary finally came to the realization of God’s blessing upon her life. Mary, the woman of no dreams, whose thoughts were colored in hues of gray, was suddenly overcome by the awesome hope of God and she became a dreamer. When Mary entered the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, who we find out later was John the Baptist, leaped within her, and Elizabeth extolled God’s graciousness in a loud voice. Elizabeth said,
42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:42-45 NIV)
Mary was wondering about all that the angel had said, but when she entered the home of her relative and the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, Mary’s wondering became wondering amazement! Confirmation filled the heart of the confounded. The miraculous overcame the muddled feelings in Mary’s heart. The baffled heart was replaced with boldness. Mary was convinced that God had shone His grace and mercy upon her life of little worth. As a result, Mary broke out in singing and praise unto God and the dreams began to flow from Mary’s heart. The dam that had held back any dreams was finally broken by God and the dreams flowed. Dreams of what her future held. Dreams of God’s graciousness and mercy to little people. Dreams for the baby in her womb.
46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name. 50His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” 56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. (Luke 1:46-56 NIV)
This song of Mary’s is much like the song of God’s servant Hannah found in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Hannah wanted a child more than anything in the world. She wanted a son to offer back to the Lord in service to His Kingdom, but the Bible says that God had closed her womb. Hannah persistently prayed for God to open her womb and bless her with a child. Finally, her prayers paid off as God blessed her with a beautiful little boy she named Samuel. After the little boy was weaned, Hannah took him to the temple to live there for the rest of his life. As she devoted and dedicated her son to the Lord she prayed,
1Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. 2″There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 3 “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed. 4 “The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. 5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry hunger no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. 6″The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. 7The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 8He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; upon them he has set the world. 9He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; 10those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:1-10 NIV)
There is a similarity between Hannah and Mary which we must pay close attention to this morning. God had taken two women, whose situation looked bleak at best, and made their wildest dreams come true! After God touched the lives of each of the women, revealed His majesty and glory, and made Himself known in a very personal way to them—the gray faded and a colorful future of possibilities and dreams was born. The women became dreamers and their dreams were divinely inspired. What they sang and prayed made absolutely no sense to the society around them, but to the women, they were speaking the very heart of God. Every syllable uttered by the women is a complete reversal of the societal norms they were so used to living with in their towns.
When Mary and Hannah threw their heads back, raised their hands to the King of all creation, and began singing at the top of their lungs they were overwhelmed with God’s love for those who are the humble, poor, despised, oppressed, hungry, and barren in society. Let’s take a look at the song of Mary for a moment.
From the beginning of Mary’s song it is quite evident that God had taken notice of what society had categorized as a nobody. Mary was from Galilee, in Nazareth, which was a region looked down upon in Jewish society. In John 1:43-51, when Jesus calls Philip to be His disciple, Philip leaves to goes to get Nathanael. Read along with me.
45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote– Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46″Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. (John 1:45-46 NIV)
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” I’m sure Mary must have heard those words on more than one occasion, but it didn’t diminish the fact that God had been mindful of the humble state of His servant—Mary was now a dreamer. She was now more than a nobody; she was highly favored by God, and from now on all generations would call her blessed for what God, her Master, was doing through her.
God had ignited a song of praise in Mary’s heart and now she was extolling His amazing deeds in the lives of those who love and revere Him. Mary says God’s mercy is extended to those who revere Him. In society, the popular and prideful may be the ones who are honored and emulated, but Mary was secure in her assessment that God would scatter the proud of heart. Rulers who rule with an iron scepter would one day leave their thrones whimpering like a whipped puppy while the humble in heart would be lifted up and exalted. The rich “fat cats” who hoard all that is good and enjoyable to themselves, they will never be filled, but in the end they will go away empty. The hungry will be filled with good things. Mary is convinced that God is going to play “fruitbasket turnover” with the societal norms which squash people and keep them in their place, but we have to remember that Mary had become a dreamer, and her dreams were rooted in God’s reality.
Mary closes her song of praise with the assurance that God will remain true to His promises. God’s promise of providing a Deliverer for His people would not be forgotten. It was spoken of throughout the Jewish Bible as men and women from the book of Genesis to the prophets stood on their tip-toes looking forward to the day when the promised Messiah would come to right all wrongs and deliver the people of Israel. The culmination of the Messianic consciousness was now being realized in the womb of a humble virgin, unknown by the vast majority of the people of her village, but chosen by God to carry the King of Glory!
Oh, Mary you may have been looked down upon by those in your society, but you weren’t forgotten by God. To society, you were just a woman from the wrong side of the tracks, but you were chosen by God. Mary you knew that God was good. You knew that He would not forget His people, but that God would deliver them from oppression and their own sin. Mary you knew so much, but Mary did you really know? Every Christmas soloist around the country sing,
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to the blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby you’ve kissed the face of God?
Oh, Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
The blind will see; the deaf will hear; the dead will live again?
The lamb will walk, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb?
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy was Heaven’s perfect Lamb and the sleeping Child you’re holding is the great I AM?
Oh Mary did you know?”
God took a woman with no dreams and ignited a dream which would be fulfilled in the birth of the Messiah! Even with Mary’s change of heart she couldn’t have known that two thousand years later that baby boy would be changing lives at Britton Christian Church in Oklahoma City. Mary couldn’t have known that the Good News of Jesus would infiltrate communist countries, war torn countries, blighted neighborhoods, and darkened hearts with such power that lives are still being changed today. Mary couldn’t have known that her baby boy would give hope to couples in the twentieth century who are on the verge of divorce. She couldn’t have known that the baby would not only deliver Israel, but people all over the world, from every community, in all segments of society, and from all sorts of sin and dire circumstances. Oh, Mary, your baby would grow up to heal blind Bartimaeus, but He is still restoring the sight of those whose eyes are clouded over with tears of anguish and grief. Oh, Mary, your baby would stand up for a woman with a bad reputation in His day, but He’s still standing up for thousands of folk right her in our community who are weighted down with their sin and have given up hope of ever feeling clean and free again. He not only delivered Mary, but He has delivered me as well. He brought joy to His mother and today He waits to bring joy to your heart if you will only take the hand of Mary’s little baby boy who grew up to be King!
We need the gift of God this Christmas. We’ve all made out wish lists for Christmas, but I have to ask you if you have written in the name of our Lord at the top of your list? Do you desire to become His disciple? Do you need to be forgiven? Are you lonely and in need of a friend? God has given us His Son to remedy all of our ills and give us peace and joy for all of life. Won’t you unwrap the gift and enjoy the blessings of the Lord?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
December 9, 2007