Are you my Mother? That’s the title of a classic children’s book, one I always enjoy reading to my kids. If you’re not familiar with the book – it’s fairly simple- it follows a newly hatched bird that is looking for its mother and it goes around asking all kinds of different animals and different things the question, “Are you my mother?” And my personal favorite part in the book is when this tiny bird comes across a giant crane and wonders could that crane be its mother. Of course not, that’s ridiculous, it’s not possible. You and I and even that little child to whom this book might be read knows that birds, birds don’t come from giant cranes. It is not possible.
So, how was this? Today, here in Luke, we are told something that is not possible. An angel, Gabriel, comes to a young woman, named Mary, and tells her that she will give birth to a son, but not just any son, “The Son of the Most High.” And she was to “give him the name Jesus.” But here was the problem, none of this was possible. How could a human woman be the mother of God? And, lest we forget, Three times in these 13 verses Luke makes it clear that Mary, Mary was a virgin, she never had sex with a man, and now this virgin was going to be pregnant?
Mary herself wasn’t quite so sure about all of this, “How will this be?” she asked. That’s a great question Mary, how? It’s not possible. Yet, we don’t hear this angel changing his tune, “You’re right Mary, my mistake.” No, Gabriel spoke with certainty, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and the one to be born will be called the Son of God.” And if there was still any doubt, Gabriel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was also pregnant, though that too should have been impossible on account of her old age. And, finally, as if God knew that there would be haters and doubters of this story across all of history, Gabriel parted from Mary with these final words, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Nothing is impossible? Well, if anything is impossible what Luke writes here would likely be it. Which brings us back to Mary…
Listen to her response to this bizarre and impossible scenario. “May it be to me as you have said.” She didn’t really get it – how could she? All she knew was that this was from God. This was His message and mission for her. Sure, there were going to be difficulties ahead–troubles with her fiancé, whispers and rumblings from neighbors, the weight of being responsible for God’s only Son–but it didn’t matter. If this was what God wanted and this was what he had planned, so be it. She was willing, ready to receive whatever he would give. And by God’s grace she became the very mother of God. Impossible, perhaps? But not to her, to Mary this was real. And, nine months later she held the impossible in her arms as that virgin gave birth to a Son, and she named him Jesus.
We, today, have this story written before us. The children in this service spoke and sang it to you. And, the details, the details…where do we even begin? In the book of Matthew, we have a genealogy traced all the way back to Abraham, real names of real people. Every letter and scroll points to this promise. Here in Luke, we have the time, the place, the conversation – it’s all here. It’s all about Jesus. And, isn’t this what you and I have always ached for?
This is the God we want…someone personal. Martin Luther once said, “We flee the hidden God and run to Christ.” Think about it. Haven’t our hearts been asking for nothing less than this – that God should learn what it means to be here, to be us? We want a real God who weeps with us over death. We want a God who has felt the hurt and the sorrow that we have experienced. A God who knows just how difficult and wearisome temptation can be. We want a God who with a deep tired sigh has looked at the stars from a gazillion miles below and has felt that weight of life that we all bear. This is what we wanted, but God gave us so much more, not just what we wanted, but also what we needed.
We needed a substitute to live an actual human life in our place and get it right all the ways we always get it wrong. Then we needed him to die a single, human death that could somehow have infinite worth to redeem not just a single life but every life. For this to happen, Jesus would have to really be one of us in every way and, at the same time, infinitely more. It sounds…impossible, but with God nothing is.
And Mary, Mary knew this, “May it be to me as you have said.” That’s faith. Trust in the impossible. And the impossible happened. Jesus did become the impossible blend of 100% God and 100% man. He did accomplish the impossible goal of living all his days without sin. He did succeed in making the impossible sacrifice; God lived here. A light in the darkness. God wept. God struggled. God was nailed to a tree; he died and paid for all our sin. But first, first he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and then he was born of a virgin, a human just like you and just like me. It sounds impossible…but here we are.
Here we are saying with the same faith of Mary, “May it be to me as you have said.” And we say this why? Because they Holy Spirit has come to you and to me. He has given us his favor. He has placed in us that trust. And now we see. Now we know – now you know! – the impossible is possible. A light has dawned. The long night of sin and death is over. Jesus came here for me. His life was for me. His death for me. And there is forgiveness…there is life…for all. Believe it. Get ready for it!. And in a few days, come back to this place and, together, let us celebrate the impossible, the birth of our Savior. His name…is Jesus. Amen