January 19, 2022

The Glory of God’s Powerful Love 19-12-2021

19th December 2021 (Advent 4)

Title: The Glory of God’s Powerful Love  

(Scripture Reading: Micah 5:2–5a; Luke 1:39-56)

                                                                                     By Heeyoung Lim

In Micah 5:2–5a, Micah was able to see God’s hand in all events, believing that God works toward restoration in the acts of justice. Micah points to the small town of Bethlehem as the source for the coming messiah, God’s most powerful demonstration of love. The small village of Bethlehem Ephrathah takes centre stage. God prepared centuries in advance for His people to understand Jesus as the Messiah fulfilling the promises. 

In Micah, hope for the present is lost, but God’s plans go far beyond the present. Messiah will be the good shepherd feeding his flock, and God’s people may be those awaiting the return of the exiles, the restoration of the lost, and the birth of the child of Bethlehem. God presented in Micah is the Lord of restoration and reunion. He does not punish His people to dissolve them but to prepare them for renewal and reunion. God’s plan here focuses on all His people from all the nations of the earth as the gospel of Luke emphasizes the salvation for all people. God’s salvation and most powerful love were prophesied and achieved. God’s salvation comes to the remnant of His people through the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem, but it is for everyone. 

A messiah had been promised to God’s people long before the time of Elizabeth and Mary. Luke 1 includes the meeting of Mary with her relative Elizabeth and the song as Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s blessing. God has chosen Mary to carry the Christ child. Mary was ready to serve but also anxious after the angel Gabriel’s visit and headed to visit the home of Elizabeth. Mary believed God’s promise and expected God’s miracle, but she needed a safe place to wait for the child sent by God in the social context and gaze of those times. As Mary enters, Elizabeth’s unborn child who will be the prophet John leaps in joy at Mary’s greeting. The first meeting between John the Baptist and Jesus takes place here. The baby jumped in the womb and God’s Spirit spoke through Elizabeth. 

In Luke 1, God’s Spirit inspired Elizabeth to bless Mary and her child, and Spirit-inspired words from Elizabeth rained blessings on Mary. The encounter between Elizabeth and Mary, led by the Holy Spirit, was a true blessing and must have been a heart-to-heart conversation. Mary’s blessing came not from who she was, it is from the holy baby whom she carried in her womb. This blessed child placed Mary in the position of blessing. I believe that Jesus Christ placed us in the position of blessing too. Even before his birth, Jesus was recognized as Lord, the Messiah of God, and our Saviour. In this gospel, God’s promises were nurtured in two women who believed God’s promise. Both women were nurturing new life inside them. God works powerfully through the ones who appear powerless.

In verse 45: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Mary believed and expected God to accomplish what he said. Faith brings blessing. Her faith displayed itself in praise. (46) Mary described herself as “the Lord’s servant” (38) and “humble” (48) and recognized that God was doing something extraordinary in her life. 

Mary sings the glory of God’s powerful love. In verses 47-56, Mary sings because God has chosen her to carry the Christ child and she praises because God acts with justice and mercy to lift those who are considered lowly, scatter those who are proud, and feed those who are hungry. In her song we hear of both sides of God’s goodness in action and the grace and the mercy of God. Mary sings for God’s promise of justice to be fulfilled in people’s lives, and her song is for all people who hope for God’s love and believe in Christ. She gave glory to God and rejoiced in the presence and actions of God through praising God. God’s reign of hope and justice comes in ways that surprise us and fill us with joy. 

God also chooses to act in our lives. We are called to praise the Lord with great joy and love. We can rejoice in God’s Promise and long the reign of justice and hope that Christ brings. God’s Spirit fills us with power, so that the gospel will be conveyed to the world and God’s promise will be achieved. May we contribute to extend the reign of God and encourage each other in word and deed.

Elizabeth was Mary’s safe place when Mary was expecting the fulfillment of God’s promise in some social and cultural difficulties. Can we be the safe place that Elizabeth offers to Mary? Mary was willing to bear the disgrace to become God’s instrument of grace until the fulfillment of God’s promise. Are we being the nurturing place where God’s promises exist and grow just like Mary? Who are the lonely, marginalized, or isolated people in our community who need a safe space? I think that everyone needs a safe place. The true safe place is only Christ, but Christ provides the world with the safe and nurturing places through us. How can the church be that safe place for others? How can we be spirit-filled people and how can we share blessings in all relationships every time?

Today’s text recalls loving salvation for an undeserving people and affirms that God does what he promises. God pays careful, loving attention to the humble, raising them up to new positions of importance. God restores His people, but He often accomplishes His will in unusual and unexpected ways. When Christ came into the world, the world has been forever changed. In Christ, God’s surprising grace accomplishes what we cannot, and His justice and salvation are given to us. God fulfills his promises and works out his will according to his perfect timing. Praise and adoration belong to God alone. May we praise God with all our hearts together.

Today’s text invites us to believe that God has done the impossible. We often limit God by our thinking or with our actions even though we experience that God often accomplishes His will in ways we might not expect. Let Him surprise us! May we trust God to be true to His promises. God responds to our faith and rewards our obedience. Despite circumstances which may give us difficulties, let God work out His will in our lives according to His timing.

May we be receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our faith journey as Jesus lived in dependence on the ministries of the Holy Spirit on the earth. I believe that the indwelling Spirit empowers us to live the life of victorious faith. May we give praise and thanks to God continually for his gracious gift of salvation. May we join Mary in singing praises to God for His mercy, forgiveness, love, and salvation.

The important thing is that God is God and what God did and why He did it. God planned to provide forgiveness and salvation for all people and achieved His salvation promises through Jesus because He so loved the world and people. God’s mercy is found in forgiveness and long-suffering patience with the weakness and corruption of humanity. God has sent His Son for us, and we celebrate the birth of our saviour, Jesus at Christmas. God is sovereign in the world and displays God’s greatness by displacing the proud and the powerful, sending the rich away empty handed. God has opened a path for us to be in constant relationship with his mercy and love. God is good, and God keeps promises. May we praise the coming of the Lord and the glory of God’s powerful love. I hope that Leighmoor congregation will be strengthened, prepared, and deepened by the love of God and the Spirit-filled blessings. May the Holy Spirit-inspired words and blessings be upon you and our faith community always. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)