This time of the year we turn to Mary for inspiration. The angel seeks her out and shares God’s wild plan for her life. Mary is at a crossroads- faith and the real world have intersected. Mary answers God in a song that has three parts. She answers based on who she is, whose she is and her purpose as a co-creator with God. The angel calls her “favored.” Meaning she was aware that God had stepped into her life and made a difference. Her remembering that she is “favored” helps her navigate her feelings of confusion and fear. Her feelings are passing, her status in God is non-negotiable. For Mary, God is a great thing-doer; a rescuer of the cast outs and the filler of empty bellies. At her crossroad, Mary remembered her God is a promise keeper. Now, she can accept and acclaim that God’s purpose for her life is the highest purpose for her life. “May your word be fulfilled with me” was her song at the crossroad of her life. May her song be ours also.
For People with Bishop Rob Wright
The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.
Read the Transcript:
Mary is standing at what I call the Christmas crossroads. Yeah, this is Christmas drama that ends up in a Christmas crossroad. And so, before we get to that little baby in the manger with the cow that looks like he’s praying some kind of way, you got to make your way through the Christmas crossroad. We’re standing at a crossroad together. And I have no idea what crossroad you are standing at.
Easton: This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright.
Hi, listeners. This is your producer Easton Davis. And today we’ve got a special episode, its Bishop Wright’s sermon from Imagine Christmas, Christmas Crossroads.
Rob: I’m having a good time.
There is no Christmas without God. That should seem obvious. And there is no Christmas without Mary. And we see Mary on our Christmas cards and her quiet faithfulness on that donkey, dilated to 10 centimeters. And Mary doesn’t seem to have a voice. Tonight, we’ll let Mary speak.
People have outlawed the Magnificat in countries because they were afraid of it. They were afraid to hear a woman of faith speak. Afraid to hear her praise her God. But you’ve got to get to Mary, to get to Christmas. Christmas comes to Mary and literally through Mary. And Mary teaches. Mary has a word for you. Mary has a word for you and a word for me. Just remember the story.
Here’s how it starts. It has three movements. The first one is, Mary finds out who she is in God. The angel Gabriel shows up on Mary’s doorstep. Have I got that right? And doesn’t even call her what her parents named her. But he calls her what god named her. First, he says, you are favored. You are favored. Favored means that God sees you. God knows you. God loves you. God prefers you. God has intervened in your life and made a difference in your life. You have favor. That’s how he says hello. Favored. You are favored.
So, Mary is standing at what I call the Christmas crossroads. Yeah, this is Christmas drama that ends up in a Christmas crossroad. And so, before we get to that little baby in the manger with the cow that looks like he’s praying some kind of way, you got to make your way through the Christmas crossroad. And so, you and I are closing 2022 and standing at the doorway of 2023, we are sort of at the end of COVID and facing we’re not exactly sure what. We’re standing at a crossroads together. And I have no idea what crossroad you are standing at in your real life. Not in your Sunday life.
So, we got to pay attention to Mary a little bit, so we know how to handle our own Christmas crossroad. Yeah, Christmas crossroad. She starts making her way through her Christmas crossover by holding on to who God says she is. Not what the world says she is. Not about what the world says she has, not about her wounds, her missteps, her misdeeds, her bad decisions. God starts off with favored.
Yeah, and what’s so important about that, that that comes first in the text is because she has some feelings right after that. What would your feelings be? I mean, God shows up and throws you a wild plan man. She feels, as Scripture says perplexed, troubled, and afraid. Can I get an amen? Here’s what we know, feelings are legitimate, right? But not every feeling is a fact. And feelings pass. But who you are in God is rock solid. So how I navigate my feelings is by holding on to who God says I am, no matter the vicissitudes of life. God likes what you look like when you pass by the mirror. Though it may change over the years, look at my hair. You are still the apple of God’s eye. And that is the beginning of how Mary makes her way. That’s what holds her steady. The world can throw you to and fro, have I got that right? And if you don’t have an anchor, something that is time tested, you’re going to be in trouble. The Christmas crossroad starts with, you are favored, favored.
In the south, we say you’ve been with somebody so long, you start to favor them. Maybe in God’s genius, God looked at her and said, she sort of looks like me. And maybe that ought to be our aim and our goal. We ought to start to look a little bit more like God in 2023, so we can favor the one who has favored us. Because that will put your mind and your behind in alignment.
Who is God? Well, Mary says this, he is the belly filler. He’s the multiplier of mercy. The one who has a strong arm, strong enough to stabilize me in any situations, I find myself in. The one who is actively opposing the arrogant, the indifferent, and the oppressor. I liked the way Dr. King talked about that. He said, “Love is overthrowing everything that is not love.” So, when I know, who’s I am, who’s in control, I know how to make my way through the crossroads.
I’m standing at the crossroads, but I’m not standing alone. You know, David had a giant in front of him. Y’all know that story? Did y’all pay attention in Sunday school? David had his Goliath. I wonder what your Goliath is. And so, David was just as arrogant, ruddy little, somebody who pushed past his brothers and confronted the giant, but not in his own arrogance. So, here’s what I think, I think he saw Goliath, his big statute, and his broad shoulders, and his big sword, but he saw a bigger God behind Goliath. And that is the way he was able to make his crossroads that day.
So, if I know who I am, and who’s I am, now I moved to the third movement. And that is simply, well say it this way, the climax of prayer is not amen. The climax of prayer is action. The climax of prayer is trust, not this Western notion of believe which is too intellectual to be useful. The only way you can actually believe in God is if you trust God to do something. If you trust God enough to stand as they used to say, on God’s promises to you, and know that God is good because you walk with God over a real-life circumstance and situation. And now, you can speak with confidence about the contours of living with God.
Mary says, If I am who God says I am, and if God is who God says God is, that I got one move to make. Respond. Respond. Some people got spiritual constipation at their crossroads. They sit on Sunday and say amen and say yes, and then go into the parking lot and ain’t changed a bit. And don’t intend to change. Not a bit. See Mary was at her crossroads and this is what happened to Mary. Mary decided that my Sunday singing ought to change my weekday living.
I mean, if God is good. I gotta respond. So, the angel says, “Can I give you the newly revised Rob standard version?” The angel says, “Rightly favored one, Mary by name.” And then, he says, “Baby.” Because you know, Gabriel is from Atlanta.
And because Mary has a moment of doubt, even at the crossroads, and that’s understandable. But how the angel supports her so that she can respond in confidence as he said, “Baby, nothing is impossible for God.” So, you ain’t never been on a first date, it’s more than biology. You were young and it’s not about your pedigree. It’s more than achievement. Yeah, it’s more than experience. Judge Mary by the size of her yes.
Some of us, we got a small yes to a big God. Yes. A teenage, brown, unwed woman had an outsized yes. Because she saw herself in God’s eyes and she saw God for who God was. She said a big yes. A yes, we’re still talking about, and she decided to co-create with God a masterpiece that we still can’t get our minds around. While you were yet sinners, her baby boy, her yes, died for you. The Christmas crossroads. See, you know, you’ve been at a Christmas Crossroads if it generates life. Life. Life.
You ain’t believing for nothing unless it turns into life. Renewed life. Revitalized life. Individually, organizationally, in your marriage, in your finances, in your child rearing life. Some might have turned green because you said yes to God. Some might have turned green. If he’s a living liberating God, some might have turned green. Baby, nothing is impossible for God. That’s the movement. That’s the movement. The yes movement. A big Yes to a big God. Nothing else will do. Nothing else will do. Nothing else.
We are pleased in because God can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine according to the faith and work in you. That’s why this little brown, first female rock star of the New Testament said, “My soul does magnify the Lord. And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Because I’ve been disregarded, I’ve been low, but now I know who I am in his eyes. I’m worthy. Not because I’m good, not because I’m smart, not because of the deeds and the letters after my name, but because he said I am. And I’m gonna trust him.” At the Christmas crossroad, trust him. Trust Him.
Because what Mary did is what we must do. We must increase the celebrity of Jesus Christ. That’s all she did. Mind, body, and soul. And to the brothers, it ain’t about feminine, this or that, this is a word for all of us. More men need to have the spirituality of Mary. This is not bound by gender. This is not about Mary’s hymen. This is about her heart. That’s all I’m saying.
My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit rejoice itself, rejoice itself, plugs in, plugs in, rejoice itself, again and again because that is the found of my joy. Blue for the sorrow of my real life, and red for the joy and happiness I feel in God mixed together for purple. Mary’s color is purple. It’s a mature color that I know what life really is, and I decide to trust God nevertheless. Baby, nothing is impossible for God. Remember Mary at your Christmas crossroad. Be blessed.
Easton: To our listeners, thank you for listening to today’s episode, keep up with us on Instagram and Facebook @BishopRobWright. Please subscribe, leave a review, and we’ll be back with you next week.
En esta época del año acudimos a María en busca de inspiración. El ángel la busca y comparte con ella el plan irracional de Dios para su vida. María está en una encrucijada de fe y su misión en el mundo se ha hecho real. María responde al llamado de Dios en un himno de tres partes. Ella responde basándose en quién es ella, a quien le pertenece y su propósito como copartícipe en el plan de salvación de Dios. El ángel la llama «favorecida». Es decir, ella era consciente de que Dios había entrado en su vida y había hecho una diferencia. El recordar que es «favorecida» le ayuda a caminar en fe aún en sentimientos de confusión y miedo. Sus sentimientos están pasando y su estatus en Dios no es negociable. Para María, Dios es un creador de maravillas; es un redentor de los marginados y es quien provee alimento a los hambrientos. En su encrucijada, María recuerda que Dios cumple sus promesas. Ahora, ella puede aceptar y aclamar que el propósito que tiene Dios para su vida, es el propósito más grande que pueda existir. «Hágase en mi según tu palabra» fue su himno en esta intersección en su vida. Que su himno también sea el nuestro.