Let it Be!

Let it Be!

2 Samuel 7:1-11,16 
Psalm 89:1-4,19-26 
Romans 16:25-27 
Luke 1:26-38 

This child will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.  He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:32-33

God of all hope and joy, open our hearts in welcome, that your Son Jesus Christ at his coming may find in us a dwelling prepared for himself; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent. Usually we would be celebrating the season of Advent at our church in Redfern. But this year has been different to all of our 35 year history. We have had to shut down the church in March, re-open in October and close again in November. It will be the first time we will not have a Christmas Eve karakia. Very confronting for me but even more confronting for you and everyone that attends our Christmas service. For years, we have always had someone drive from Taree for karakia, have a kai with us at 1am and then drive back to Taree. Not this year. It’s wet and cold in Sydney and there is an outbreak of Covid19 re-emerging in different parts of our city. So be careful where you go whanau, wear your masks, make sure you keep your distance from others and don’t get caught up in big crowds. Hence, the importance of being able to re-adjust our lives, and do it quickly. Don’t procrastinate or wait for something to happen, get moving. Like I’ve stated, Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. A time for us to let go of our old stories and re-discover a new way forward and a new way of being. So are you ready? 

You see, when I reflect on my life and where I have come from to where I am today. I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that I would be here. So it’s a good time to ask the following question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ It’s a question that most of us were probably asked in our younger years. We ask it of our children and grandchildren. But it’s not a question limited to a particular age. Nor is it necessarily that simple. Some of us are still trying to answer that question today. Who would’ve thought, least of all me, that I would grow up to be a priest! When we were kids, we would lie in the paddock at night, looking up at the stars and dream about being astronauts and pilots. Then on holidays with our uncle, I would think I’m gonna be a truck driver just like him. Then as you get older, you start thinking, I’m gonna be a famous muso like Bob Marley. Even though I couldn’t sing or play any instrument. At one level these were nothing but silly fantasies. At another level, they point to the assumption that we are responsible for creating the life we want.

So have a look at all your relationships: your whanau, your friendships, your marriage and partnerships, your jobs and careers, your education and your homes. All of those are attempts to create your life. That’s not necessarily wrong. We have decisions to make and opportunities before us. The difficulty comes when we start to believe and carry the burden that we are the ultimate creator of our life. Seems that’s what happened to King David when he decided that God needed a big cedar house like his. David was convinced that he was the one to build a house for God. Until God said, “No.” God reminded David that God is the builder and creator of life. It’s been that way from the beginning. For in the beginning, God said and it happened. God said let there be light and there was, let there be sky, dry land, earth that brings forth vegetation, fish that fill the waters, a sun and a moon. Let us create humankind in our image and likeness. God said let there be all these things and there was all those things. Creation is the larger context for today’s gospel, the Annunciation to Mary.

God speaks the creative word. And, today we remember Mary’s words, “Let it be.” “Let it be with me according to your word.” Mary’s words, “Let it be,” echo God’s words, “Let there be.” It’s like an ongoing call and response between God and humanity. God speaks creation into existence and Mary says, “Amen. Let it be.” This is not an ending to the creation story but the continuation of creation and the beginning of our salvation. Think about this. God says, “Let there be” and his words bring forth creatures into the world. Mary says, “Let it be” and her words will bring forth the Creator into the world, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus is able to take flesh because Mary’s humanity gives him that possibility. This could only happen with Mary’s “Let it be.” Her gift to God is her humanity and through her it’s our humanity. The incarnation of God in Jesus is not, however, limited to Mary. It’s an affirmation of God’s creation and the goodness of humanity. God chooses human flesh, not a big huge cedar house, as the place of God’s dwelling. Each one of us can stand as the “favoured one,” the one with whom God is. Each of us is called to grow up to be God-bearers, to carry the life of God, the life of Christ within our own humanity. Let it be and accept it!

Tradition says that Mary was one of the virgins chosen to weave a new veil for the temple. The veil was the curtain that separated humanity from the holy of holies, the place that God lived. Neither the temple veil nor Mary’s virginity, however, can separate God from humanity. As the Archangel Gabriel declares, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” We all live with veils that we think separate us from God and allows us to remain hidden. There are veils of fear, shame, and guilt. Independence and individualism become veils of isolation. Sometimes we are veiled in logic and reason, unable or unwilling to abandon ourselves to the mystery of God. Often our veils are the life we have created for ourselves. God looks through all our veils to see the “favoured one” even when we can’t see ourselves that way. God’s words of possibility speak across our veils announcing that God is with us and that we will conceive within us God’s own life. God is always stepping through our veils to choose us as God’s dwelling place and create a new story and a new beginning for each one of us.

“How can this be?” With those words Mary acknowledges that the life Gabriel announces is not the life she was creating for herself. “Let it be.” With those words Mary receives the life God is creating in her. Between “How can this be?” and “Let it be” the impossible becomes a reality, the never before heard of will forever be spoken of, and the veil between divinity and humanity has fallen. Offer whatever excuses, reasons, and veils you have why this cannot be true for you. Gabriel will tell you differently. Because “Nothing will be impossible with God.” Amen.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu
Photo: 2019 4th Sunday in Advent