Five prayers for advent — Part 1
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 1st December 2019
“So close you could almost touch.”
These were the words of one of our church’s youth, they were having a sleepover, two nights, in church this weekend. A better version of that quote would be, “God’s presence was so close we felt like we could almost touch him. Praise indeed. I was a youth leader here over 30 years ago and still follow what is being done closely.
Sleepover was a theme this weekend. Our granddaughter stayed at our house on Saturday night to allow for our daughter and her husband to attend something that included alcohol. It was this angelic-looking three-year-old that called out in a loud voice, “Grandma, Grandad, I’m here,” as the children came back in from Sunday School. During the Eucharistic prayer as well.
With a child to look after there was not much time to prepare for worship. At least we were there to look after her, I was not involved in the service at all and my wife was on coffee duty (something which ought to be recognised as a sacrament). Next week we are looking after her again, but I’ll be playing in the worship band. We’ll see how that goes.
The sermons of December are Five prayers for Advent. We were told these all have names in Latin. Why? Mary would have spoken Aramaic, the religious language of the Jews was Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek, we were worshipping in and listening to a sermon in English. I cannot understand why we need to get another language involved. Plus on the screens in uppercase, so not only unnecessary but shouted at us.
Whatever the reason, the Latin was “FIAT MIHI,” with the translation, “May your word be fulfilled,” or as Paul McCartney sang, “Let it be.”
The reading was Luke 1:26–38. She was a peasant girl in her early teens, deeply troubled by the appearance of the angel. She did not have to wait for the 20th week of pregnancy to find out the sex of her baby, She was not only told that she was having a son but also his name, Jesus which means the Lord saves. Mary’s decision, saying, ‘May your word to me be fulfilled,’ was not an easy decision to make.
Becoming pregnant this young and unmarried was not part of the plan. Luke tells us three times that she was a virgin to emphasise the point. She would be ostracised by society, branded an adulteress. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that her betrothed, Joseph, planned to quietly put her away.
God loves to surprise who he uses. Nazareth was a corrupted place. There was a Roman garrison situated there and Jews, if they could the Jews would not go near the place. ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ asked Nathaniel in John Chapter1.
We see Mary’s heart in this story and we see God’s heart. God is unpretentious in who he chose. He does not choose the people with the best education, the best jobs, the most money of the best looks. God looks on the heart.
Mary was promised a combination of joy and pain. Her response ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ is remarkable.
What is stopping you from saying these words today?