With God Nothing Is Impossible:
“Would You Like Lemon in Your Coffee?”
Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
At St. Thomas’, Thomasville, GA, Dec. 16, 2011
Advent 4, Year B, RCL 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Canticle15; Romans 16: 25-27; Luke 1: 26-38
“Greetings, favored one!
The Lord is with you.” 
God gives us a rich banquet of scriptures to feast on today before we feast on the rich food God gives us in the bread and wine at this banquet table.
One of the richest taste combinations I have experienced was a cup of espresso served with a twist of lemon. I was so surprised to have lemon served with coffee. I expected sugar. Surprisingly, the lemon sweetened the bitter coffee.
Our scriptures are like that – an odd, yet complementary, combination that serves us well at this hectic and emotional season. These scriptures remind us that our first reaction isn’t the final word, we can change our decision, and “with God, nothing will be impossible” – including getting through the days ahead.
David says, “I’m going to build God a nice house.” The prophet Nathan says, “Great idea, Dave.” God says: “Not so fast! Nathan, you got this wrong. You look at this from a human perspective. Tell David I AM going to build you a house.” The Hebrew word for house can mean palace, temple, and dynasty – the people of God. God is going to build a people.
God does not need us to build God a place to stay. Yet God invites us to make room within ourselves for God to live.
God sends the Angel Gabriel to Mary to say that God will live in her womb and be born into the human family. The Angel says two simple sentences: "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." And Mary’s mind starts racing! Her mind runs in all directions. It runs straight to all the barriers that her culture has set up, all the reasons from a human perspective that God’s idea won’t work.
How can she be favored? She’s a small town girl. She’s not from an influential family. She’s too young. She’s not married. She knows that in her culture a woman can be stoned if she is unmarried and pregnant. Mary doesn’t have the right status.
Mary’s cousin Elizabeth doesn’t have the right status. She’s too old. She’s married and has no child. She has been suffering from her culture’s disdain of barrenness – that culture’s human perspective of barrenness as a sign of God’s disfavor.
The Angel Gabriel tells young Mary that old Elizabeth is going to have a baby. With God, nothing is impossible. God does not follow our rules. After Gabriel tells Mary all these details and the assurance that nothing will be impossible with God, then Mary says yes. Mary says, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Mary transforms from fearful to faithful.
As commentator Karoline Lewis notes: We see Mary’s “radical transformation...from peasant girl to prophet, from Mary to mother of God, from denial to discipleship.”
“Hello favored one of God, sitting in the pew at St. Thomas’! The Lord is with you.”....It’s OK to react like Mary: afraid, wondering. “How can this be? What does this mean? Me? The Angel must mean someone else in the pew.”
The Angel means you. God calls you. When you – when we – say yes, then we transform like Mary. We transform from what we think we are to what God calls us to be. We transform from human perspective to God’s hands and feet in our time and place.
Our scriptures point us to even more than this “radical transformation of Mary” and us. As commentator Lewis says, we see “the very transformation of God.” God, who does not need us to build God a house, is willing to transform into “...God in the manger, vulnerable, helpless, dependent...” God, willing to be vulnerable, helpless and dependent on us, waits for us to answer.
“Greetings, Favored One sitting in the pew at St. Thomas’:
The Lord is with you.”
....When you get over the shock, what will you say to God?
Will you say yes?
“The Annunciation of Our Lord.” Lesser Feats and Fasts 2003. New York: Church Publishing. 2003.
Book of Common Prayer. New York: The Church Hymnal Corp., and The Seabury Press. 1979.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: Paul J. Achteimer. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1985.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Lange, Dirk G. “The letter to the Romans begins and ends in unusual ways for Paul.” http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching_print.aspx?commentary_id=1152. Accessed: Dec. 15, 2011.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed Dec. 10, 2011.
Lewis, Karoline. “To Be Regarded...The Annunciation to Mary is a remarkable text.” http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?tab=4&alt=1. Accessed Dec. 15, 2011.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds.: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
Santiago, J. Manny. Comentario del Evangelio: “No cabe duda de que María de Nazaret debe recibir nuestra admiración y devoción.” http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?tab=4&alt=1. Accessed Dec. 15, 2011.
Solvang, Elna K. “Royal hope and an undisturbed place.” http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?tab=1&alt=1. Accessed Dec. 15, 2011.
...With God’s help we will respect the dignity of every human being.
...Con el auxilio de Dios, respetaremos la dignidad de todo ser humano.
Book of Common Prayer p. 305
El Libro de Oración Común pj. 225.
 Note: Photo shows an icon of The Annunciation purchased from The Printery House of Conception Abbey, Conception, MO.
 Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. P. 631.
 Lewis, Karoline. “To Be Regarded...The Annunciation to Mary is a remarkable text.” http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?tab=4&alt=1. Accessed Dec. 15, 2011.
 New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds.: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. P. 1241.
 Lewis. Ibid.