Living in a miracle

That’s not a reference to a Razorlight song, or even a mis-quote, but the theme of our service yesterday morning. Weirdly enough we were being filmed for the local news on ITV at the time (not something that has happened to me before!) and then later in the afternoon at our carol service we ran out of seats. A pretty amazing day, and not one I would have predicted…

Here’s what I said in the morning, based around the passage in Luke’s Gospel where Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel (its in chapter one, here)…

What miracles has God done in your life?  Or to put it another way, what things have happened in your life that you might previously have thought were impossible? I was talking with a friend earlier in the week about Christmas presents, and where to put them- she had noticed that we already had some under the tree, and I’d said the only problem was Sam trying to unwrap the ones he could reach… her problem was apparently that her older children would be tearing small holes in an attempt to find out what was in each parcel without actually opening them.  It struck me that I just don’t worry that Lois and Emily would do that… its not that they’re angelic or anything, but there are just some things where I have complete trust in them, and that’s one of them.

Mary had complete trust in God- in his love, in his will, in his power.  We don’t know anything about her until she appears in the beginning of the gospels, as a young woman, preparing to get married (which would have made her around 14yrs old, so most commentators suggest, and if you’re shocked by that, you need to bear in mind that life expectancy was around 40 and infant mortality was probably around 10%- life was very different in many ways). But we don’t know anything about her life before this point.  Its very improbable that she was born perfectly ready for this time, for this moment when she would become one of the pivotal figures in world history. One of those people that others are named after… We think of how particular people’s lives shape the course of history, or of how they were or are so important, but each of those people- the ones we’ve heard of, were shaped by those around them, ones we’ll never know. Mary was formed during her life by the society she lived in, but also by the people around her, her family, friends and neighbours, her childhood learning about her faith, when at some point she went from knowing about God to knowing God.  She wasn’t born ready, she had to become ready.

And so do we.  We are not called to the same purpose as Elizabeth and Mary, but each of our lives are priceless and unique in God’s plan and purpose.  We may play a part that never hits the headlines, or that is hugely significant to only one person- but we may never know. And even if we don’t, being part of God’s plan is not something we grow into, or retire out of- it is the whole of our life that is wonderful in God’s sight, so lets live that way… Don’t worry that your life doesn’t seem significant or that you aren’t doing something big- there is someone you can pray for, someone you can help, someone you can call, someone you can sit next to and say hello to- all of those things are hugely significant, and all of those things are within our reach.  They aren’t anything different from the things done by so many others, so how are they part of God’s plan? The difference is the same as the difference between someone kicking a ball around in the park, and someone playing on a football team- as part of a team you are aware of others, aware of the purpose you’re working towards, listening for the sound of the whistle and playing by the rules… you are ready, willing and obedient.

And when we do these things, when we do them for God, we learn over time to be more trusting, more obedient, more likely to see the impossible happen in our lives. And that will strengthen us to trust him for more in the future. May we be people who grow in strength, in trust, in faith, may we celebrate the impossible things that God has done in our lives and look for them in others.

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