12/16/01, A3A

“This Season of Miracles”
Luke 1: 26-55

 Sunday School Child asked her mother, "Which virgin was Jesus' mother: The Virgin Mary, or the King James 'Virgin?" The child's question was not whether it happened, but which one did it happen to. Children have a capacity for believing that we adults are in danger of losing as we get "smarter." Jesus said to his disciples, "Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mat. 18:2, NASV).

The young virgin that God selected to become the bearer of the Divine Child was like a child in her ability to believe. Once the angel explained how the conception would take place her question was not "how," but "why me?" Mary was probably not much older than a child when she was informed by the Angel Gabriel that she had been selected by God, and thus had the opportunity to decide to become the mother of the Divine; yet human, Son of God.

One of the greatest lines in all of literature is in the angel's explanation to Mary, and to us: "For nothing will be impossible with God." (Lk.1:37). If we can believe that then we can believe anything. Indeed, if we can open our minds to see the truth of God's breaking into the natural order of things, then we can believe in additional miracles. Haven't we all been touched by a miracle in our lives. I think that most people have had experiences that they would attribute to some kind of miracle.

Just yesterday I had the honor of participating in an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for a young man who had a miracle at birth. After discovering that she was pregnant his mother was told by her doctors that she could not deliver the baby and would need an immediate medical abortion. They had found a heart valve disorder that threatened her life just to live, and there was no way that she could survive pregnancy and child birth. So we wept. Mother and Father, Pastor and my Marilyn too. Marilyn had delivered two babies and explained the pain and risk from a nurses' point of view. We listen to their concerns and weighed the options. There was some possibility that she could give birth and have heart valve replacement surgery later. We prayed, cried and prayed some more. Finally the decision was made to carry the baby to term and have surgery later. Thus, we had a young Eagle Scout, who has a straight A average and has received early admission to the University of Georgia, and who is aware that God has His hand on his life in a special way, achieved Scouting's highest honor. Everyone in the ceremony was touched by a true miracle, a stepping into our lives by the Divine.

Most cry "No way!" when faced with a seemingly impossible idea or task, but we who live by the Manger Miracle know that there is a way out of no way.

Some doubt that miracles happen, but I see them in all sorts of places.

Theologically, the Incarnation is God's basic miracle, but possibly an even greater miracle than that is the fact that billions have believed it as it has been presented to them in story form. The story is pictured on your Christmas tree in the ornaments that project the Nativity. Many of you grew up in homes with expensive porcelain Crèches, perhaps Lenox, or Waterford. Like us, you may have a hand carved Nativity scene of olive wood from the Holy Land.

The Nativity story captures our hearts, but it also challenges our minds to understand it. A university professor told me one time that very few from their philosophy faculty are Christians. Some of the literature professors believed. Many from the sciences had come to see the scientific necessity of having a Divine Creator, and the need for an Incarnation to bring redemption. Then my friend went on to say that all of the professors of physics and mathematics at his university were believers who had been led down the road
to faith by their growing awareness of the reasonableness of the Incarnation.

Scientists come to understand that the highest in life cannot be explained and that the only logical explanation is that there has somehow been a Divine hand involved. Although most things are controlled by axioms and principles of the universe, many times there is no other explanation than that it was a miracle: A time when God put aside natural laws for a moment in order to perform a special miracle. The Miracle of Christmas, and the events surrounding it, is just such a time.

The resurgence we can feel happening in our church is something of a miracle. Gradually, through those of us who are willing to be involved, God is bringing about a new vision for our center city church. Ultimately, what we are experiencing is God stepping down the stairway of heaven to bring new hope. If it does not happen it is because we do not believe that it can happen. We can say no to God, just as Mary and Joseph could have said no to their Divine option. No doubt God could have found someone else who could meet the criteria, but Mary and Joseph, and indeed the Shepherds and Wise Men, were His first choice. Likewise, if we turn Him away, He will go on to someone else. As we have observed during these years of our church making a gradual comeback, some have dropped out. Maybe it was just too daunting. Perhaps they doubted. It was easier for them to go elsewhere. Thankfully, God has called in replacements and we have continued to show a gain. We await the major influx of new neighbors back downtown and know that God will lead some to become a part of us in our calling to be a church in the heart of Atlanta. He has given us an opportunity to become a part of His miracle. We are called to sing, invite, teach, preach and implement the myriad chores necessary to bring new life into being. However, it is not so much our ability that He needs but our availability: our willingness. The thing about Mary is that she was very willing. There is no higher motivational experience than to have a part in the work of the Divine Creator.

We each have a calling to become a part of God's Miracle at Peachtree Street and Porter Place. After all, it's the Season of Miracles!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

12/16/01, A3A