A sermon for the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr, Jerusalem on Monday, 4 April 2016.
Today we celebrate the courage of a young woman who said YES to God.
Luke the master storyteller has crafted a beautiful story about the birth of Jesus.
He has woven together elements from Jewish tradition as well as the Roman world in which he lived. The world of his principal addressee, Theophilus.
Luke is celebrating the strange workings of God among us.
The strange workings of a God who calls Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees.
The strange workings of a God who speaks to Musa from the burning bush.
The strange workings of a God who calls the people of Israel into being in this land of promise.
The strange workings of a God who comes among us in the person of Jesus.
The strange workings of a God who calls the Jewish people back from Diaspora to renew their ancient connections with this land.
Luke begins with a story of two births.
Two women who find themselves pregnant in unusual circumstances. An elderly woman who has not conceived despite several decades of married life. And a maiden not yet married.
Two miraculous births.
At the heart of the story is a young Palestine Jewish woman from Nazareth who says YES to God.
This evening we are invited to imitate Mary by making our own YES to God.
God invites our YES.
That is amazing. Think about it. God waits for us to respond before acting. In creation we are called to collaborate with God, but in salvation God chooses to wait for us.
God comes to us. In the reading from Isaiah 52 just now, God says, “Here am I.” The words later found on the lips of Mary in Luke 1, and on the lips of Jesus in Hebrews 2, are also found on the lips of God. “Here am I.”
God waits for us.
God invites our response.
God chooses not to act until we are ready to say YES.
How shall we respond to the God who invites our response?
And to what might we be saying YES?
We will be saying YES to hope
We will be saying YES to trust
We will be saying YES to life
We will be saying YES to justice
We will be saying YES to compassion
We will be saying YES to freedom
We will be saying YES to joy
We will be saying YES to love
The world needs people who say YES to these things.
The world needs people who say YES to God.
We need to be people who say YES to the God who invites us to work with God to heal and save a broken world. AMEN