God's Great Story of Christmas

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God's Great Story of Christmas
Text: Luke 1:26-38
Occasion: Christmas, Advent
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Audience: Adults
Theological Tradition: General
Topic: Favor, Grace
Author: Jeff Mammen


God's favor is not given to "great" people, but God's favor makes small people great.

How to Get There

  • This seems like a rather insignificant and normal event for the most part. A small town, small nation, small time young woman. Only the angel makes it stand out at first.
  • We assume that “greatness” comes with Superbowls, money, fame. This story should have nothing to do with greatness.
  • But greatness is written all over this story. Mary had a huge role in the big picture, though she looked like nothing.
  • God gives great favor to Mary, Mary was being surrounded and encompassed by God's grace.
  • God can find the most insignificant people in the most insignificant places and using them in mighty ways.
  • It's the simple, insignificant people who God uses because they aren't cluttered by what the world thinks is greatness.
  • It's not by performing that we get God's favor, but by recognizing ourselves as simply sinners, and that God came for us anyway.
  • God's favor meant God gave her far more than she thought she wanted. God was with her, she was with God.
  • Whose favor am I after? We tailor all our actions to try and get the favor we seek. When we seek people's favor, they control us. When we live for God we have a strong foundation for our lives.
  • And this favor brought greatness to Mary and her child. But not through the world's path on success.
  • Greatness is found in humility and descent. The descent of a savior who died as a criminal, and in the humility of a woman who was willing to be used.
  • Mary didn't know everything, she was willing to let God decide for her, and trust. It was a huge risk for her. Faith involves risk.
  • We cannot get the sort of favor Mary got from God through our works. It takes our faith. And with that step of faith comes greatness that the world can never have, a greatness of doing what God wants.
  • What God asks us to do, God will give us favor and power and greatness enough to accomplish. Nothing is impossible with God.

Things to Watch For

This is a fairly simple passage, though as with any Christmas message, it is hard to actually see the text under all of the assumptions and traditions we have put over it all. It's hard to see Mary as the nothing she was because we have built her up so far.

  • Mary was small, nothing, but because of her faith, she was given favor, given grace. And God gave her enough to make her great.
  • Her story can be our story, we are never too small or too weak for God's favor to find us and use us.

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