Now, after three weeks of lessons that are full of anticipation, we get to a story that the people love to hear–The Visitation. The baby hasn’t arrived, but at least the angel foretells his coming. His name is spoken. We hear that familiar phrase from the Christmas pageant– “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And, “Nothing is impossible with God.” The next time the Church meets after this Sunday will be Christmas Eve, and the people are ready for some Good News. In some cases, this Sunday may see more folks in churches than the High Holy Day. The preacher has an opportunity to share the Gospel to folks that may not have been in a pew since Easter. Offer grace. Nothing is impossible, not even your congregation.
- The Old Testament lesson is a narrative of Nathan and David. The ark is no longer to be in a tent, but in a house made of cedar. It is the story of the shepherd/king being settled into the kingdom. A kingdom that will be passed from generation to generation, all the way to Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus’ Kingdom (David’s Kingdom) will be eternal. This lesson is one of restoration and offers hope to a people who need a stable situation. It will be fulfilled in another kind of “stable” as we will read on Christmas Eve.
- My suggestion is to use the Canticle some place in worship. It is Mary’s Song from Luke 1:46-55 (The Magnificat). Sing it in some form or fashion. This Sunday celebrates the announcement that Mary will give birth to a son. The Magnificat is Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message.
- The psalm is an excellent compliment to the OT Lesson. It offers another telling of the 2 Samuel passage. It lends itself to singing as well.
- The lesson from Romans is very short this week. I personally would not use it as my focus passage, but would find a way to use it in worship–possibly as a benediction or blessing. It is a powerful couple of verses, but I would find it hard to preach (especially since the Gospel pleads to be preached on the last Sunday of the season).
- The Gospel may be one of the easiest to preach of the season–Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary–“Hail O favored one! You are about to give birth to a baby boy, you will name him Jesus (Yeshua-Joshua). He will be great and called the Son of the Most High. His Kingdom will last forever (see OT and Psalm). The Holy Spirit will make this happen, and this baby will be holy.” Even more amazing is that this young woman, Mary, offers these words: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (I’ll do what you need me to do.) The awe and wonder in this story is quite amazing–Mary’s obedience–awe inspiring. You are days away from one of the high points of the church year, give them a message that challenges them to hear the rest of the story–that inspires faith and obedience–the same kind that was lived by a teenage girl from Nazareth. Remember, nothing is impossible with God–not even your congregation.
- Some fun notes with lots of humor–Rumors from Ralph Milton
- Good commentary at Working Preacher
- More notes that deal mainly with the Gospel Lesson from The Voice