Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas is the revelation of the Great Reverser

Yesterday I preached from Mary's song in Luke 1:46-56 and tried to show how the events surrounding her miraculous conception shaped her perception of God. Specifically, my concern was to call attention to those descriptions in the "Magnificat" that portray Him as the "Great Reverser."

That language is borrowed from David Wells in his book, Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision. This is the third title in his 4 book project on Christianity in a postmodern world. When I first read it 8 years ago, I was struck by his insights into evangelism in an age captivated by postmodernity. His comments on Mary have my underlines and asterisks all around them. Yesterday I read this paragraph in the sermon. It comes from the fifth chapter, which is entitled, "Contradictions."
God, Mary saw, is the great reverser of what we think is normal. From a human perspective, there is a contrarian twist to God's actions. They do not follow the paths of convention. In this case, does it make sense that Mary, a poor, inconsequential teenager (in all likelihood), is remembered today, for she said, "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48)? And they have--while the rich and powerful of the day have more or less vanished from memory. Who today knows of the great celebrities of Mary's time, women like Livia (who married Augustus Caesar), Octavia (whom Mark Anthony divorced in order to marry Cleopatra), or Antonia (who was poised by her emperor-grandson, Caligula)? They had their season at the pinnacle of power and at the center of attention. They lived in great honor; Mary, in great obscurity and social shame. The wind, however, has blown them away, but Mary will be remembered forever (174).
It was amazing--almost overwhelming--to think of the many divine "contrarian twists" in that auditorium yesterday as I preached. Many if not most of us would have very little reason to associate with one another were it not for the power of the Gospel operating in our lives. By sending His Son in human flesh, God reversed our prospects and and transformed our lives. It really is overwhelming.


Seth McBee said...

To forget Mary's faith has been common in the protestant circles because of the errors in the Catholic Church.

She is often overlooked too often when she was actually a young maiden that had faith in her God to "move mountains" in her womb.

May we not worship her but emulate her great faith in our great God.

Aaron L. Turner said...

I am thankful that the "Great Reverser" has done and is continuing to work His work of reversal in my life.

Thank you for your insightful post.

Greg B said...

In our weakness and foolishness the power of God is made obvious. (The Greg Bailey Paraphrase Version)
Paul had it right.

M. Jay Bennett said...

Christian community is a work of Trinitarian beauty. The Lord has been good to his Church.

Biblically Reforming said...

Pondering and meditating on the Grace of Christ and knowing his love for me makes me feel like a little kid looking with wonder at the new world around me.

It's amazing how fresh and new and real the Love of God always is, and the over-abundance of his mercies which He never seems to tire of flooding His people with.

Praise His Name!

SelahV said...

How amazing is our God that He could leave His heaven and come to earth to be born through human flesh and still be God. And from that point He indeed reversed all into the eternity of yesterdays and for all who come to know Him as their Shepherd--an eternity of tomorrows with no rising or setting sun. No sorrow, no pain. An eternal peace, filled with Jesus mortal flesh to tie us down. To God be the Glory. SelahV