12/18/05, A4B

“Possible Impossibilities”
Luke 1: 26-38, NRSV

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

If you are walking through the woods and find an old rifle resting against a tree you would assume that there had been a gunmaker and a former gun owner.

While I was pastor of County Line United Methodist a hunter found a Civil War rifle still leaning up against a big tree; indeed the tree trunk had grown around the bayonet. Old timers had always believed the story that General Scofield’s Army of the Ohio had marched across that very property on their way to surround Atlanta. The point is that nobody would have assumed that the old bayoneted rifle had evolved out from the trunk. There had to be a gunmaker, a creator.

Last year, The Associated Press broke the news that the most famous atheist in the academic world over the last half-century, Professor Antony Flew of England's University of Reading, now accepts the existence of God. Flew's best-known argument for atheism, "Theology and Falsification," was delivered in 1950 to the Socratic Club, chaired by none other than C.S. Lewis. This paper became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last five decades and set the agenda for modern atheism. Now, in a remarkable reversal, Professor Flew believes that the universe was brought into being by an infinite intelligence, a Creator.

“What I think the DNA material has done is to show that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements together," he said. "The enormous complexity by which the results were achieved look to me like the work of intelligence." (AP) There is no other explanation for the existence of the complex DNA than that the first person was created and not just evolved by random chance.

I know that we used to visit the Atlanta Zoo and marvel at how the famous Willie B, the giant gorilla (not of King Kong stature however) looked a lot like us. He had his own TV and appeared to watch the programs. At times it seemed as if he remembered me from visit to visit. When he died Atlanta grieved. If the Zoo had called I would have conducted his funeral.

All kidding aside, Willie B was almost human; but not quite. His DNA was not human. His blood was not compatible with ours. We can not be the next stage in a godless evolutionary chain because DNA is too complicated. Indeed, planet Earth has not been around long enough for even protoplasm to have mutated or evolved.

In today’s text we overhear the angel Gabriel reminding Mary that although it is normally impossible for a virgin to conceive a child, and that it is indeed a once and for all time unique act of God to enter into human flesh, the truth that enables this miraculous birth is that “With God all things are possible.”  Or, He makes “Possible Impossibilities.”

This is the essence of what C.S. Lewis said to refute Dr. Flew at the Oxford “Socratic Club.” On that night in 1950, Lewis was not merely appealing to fideism, the philosophical notion that we can only understand through blind faith, but Lewis was saying that the theory of evolution was at least as naïve as are millions of people taking a step of faith and then experiencing a kind of assurance within their soul. But beyond our faith and belief, the preponderance of evidence still points to our divine Creator who acted purposively in creating us “In His Image.”

And sweet Mary, the pure young woman whom God selected to be the bearer of the miracle, believed what the angel told her and she responded to everything she was instructed to do with an eternal faithfulness and exemplary grace. And today she stands as an example of the simple faith that makes impossible things become possible.

It may be that the most impressive evidence that God still talks to people, is that over 90% of us believe that He does. God is still making the impossible possible.

As a child our greatest fear was annihilation by atomic war. We dug bomb shelters and packed away food and supplies. “My Weekly Reader” always had a story about the end of the world. I recall one movie with the theme that when the Atomic War started all of us would be turned into monkeys. Fear was always with us.

Who would have thought that America and the Western World would win with faith in God? The Russians, the Hungarians and the Poles were simply tired of missing Christmas and wanted to be able to express their faith in the Almighty. I happened to be on a mission trip to Poland in 1988, just prior to their first free election in 44 years. The people overwhelmingly voted in a free government. Soon the Berlin wall was torn down and I now have a chunk of it in my desk.

Christmas in the hearts of God’s people is capable of “Possible Impossibilities.”

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
12/18/05, A4B