Series: Christmas Through the Eyes of Mary
Sermon: Beginning with the End
Scripture Readings: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Acts 1:8-14,
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (Acts 1:12-24)
Monday December 3 — John 2:1-12
Mary, the mother of Jesus appears a number of times in the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. We are most familiar with the Christmas story, but there are other significant scenes, including the first miracle story in John’s Gospel—turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. Here we see Jesus and Mary interacting as a typical mother and son. But we should notice that Mary believes that Jesus can do something about the wine shortage. In other words, she had faith. How might you develop the same kind of faith in the power of Jesus? Where have you seen the power of Jesus at work in your life?
- Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for teaching me and helping me believe in your power. Help me to trust in your power and let you change my life today.
Tuesday December 4 — Mark 3:19b-35
Mark’s account of Jesus’ homecoming (see verse 19b) puts his relationship with his family in a different light. His family wants to restrain him because they think he has lost his mind (verse 21). Then Jesus seems to reject his family by saying that his true family is made up of the people who do the will of God (verse 35). It tells us that what Jesus does is so extraordinary that even his family (the people who should know him best) don’t understand. Have you ever thought that what Jesus says and does (and expects us to do) seems crazy or foolish? Do you follow him anyway?
- Prayer: Gracious God, forgive me for having moments of doubt and disbelief. Help me trust you enough to follow Jesus, even when it seems foolish.
Wednesday December 5 — Mark 6:1-6
One of the themes of Mark’s Gospel is the spiritual blindness of the disciples and the people who didn’t see Jesus as the Son of God and didn’t trust him or believe his message. In another visit to his hometown (Nazareth), Jesus is rejected by people who question him: who does he think he is? They were offended by his words and actions and ran him out of town. Read Mark 10:46-52 and see what Jesus does for people who suffer from spiritual blindness.
- Prayer: God of Power and Might, like many others, I struggle to see clearly and follow Jesus. Heal my blindness so that I might experience your abundant life. Amen.
Thursday December 6 — John 19:25b-37
In a poignant moment, John’s Gospel describes Jesus’ love for his mother as she watched him die on the cross. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Mary was warned that “a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35). One of the ways that Mary endured the death of her son was through the community of believers. She had been a witness to Jesus’ entire ministry and would now be part of the community of believers who would continue his ministry. That’s how we endure tragedies in our lives too, through the support of the Christian community. During Advent, reach out to someone who needs your love and care.
- Prayer: God of Love, thank you for the Church. Thank you for surrounding me with your family, where I can find help and support in painful and difficult times.
Friday December 7 — Acts 1:8-14
The first chapter of Acts, describes Jesus’ final post-resurrection appearance and his final instruction for his disciples: “you will be my witnesses …” (verse 8). One often-missed detail in this account of the formation of the Church is the presence of Mary (see verse 14). She was with Jesus throughout his earthly life and was part of the community of believers following his ascension into heaven. Before Jesus was born Mary said, “let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). We can imagine that she said the same thing many times in her life, including the day Jesus’ commissioned her. Can you pray the same prayer that Mary prayed?
- Prayer: Almighty God, I stand today with Mary and hear Jesus commission me to be his witness to the ends of the earth. Let it be with me according to your word. Amen.
Saturday December 8 — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Mary and the rest of the early Church lived with the expectation that Jesus would return and that the promises of God’s Kingdom would be fulfilled. Many, if not most, of the first century followers of Jesus expected his return in their lifetime. It gave urgency to their mission and hope to their lives. Advent invites us to renew our own hope and live (and serve) with the confident expectation of Jesus’ return. When we pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10) we are asking for both the present and future reign of Jesus in our lives and in God’s world. Pray the Lord’s Prayer today.
- Prayer: Heavenly Father, let your name be holy in my life and in your world. I ask for your Kingdom to come into my life and for Jesus to reign in my heart today.