The Love of Unexpected Mothers

Heritage Presbyterian Church

Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 19, 2021
Scripture reading: Luke 1: 39-55

I just love this time of year, don’t you?  I love the decorations, the music, the holiday activities, the slightly chilly weather, the lights, all of it.  I just love it!

But that’s not the type of love that we are speaking of today.

I love the various foods that are served at parties and at my house during this type of the year too.  The three best cooks I have every personally known are my grandmother, my mother, and my wife.  And holiday time is when these three women have given brand new definitions to various types of food that I just love to smell, sample, taste, and enjoy.

But that’s not the type of love that we are speaking of today either.

I love it when my sports teams win.  When my teams have been playing poorly for a LONG time, when I can be correctly described as being a “die-hard” fan – and when I’ve died very, very hard for my teams over the years, I can say with a big smile that I just LOVE it when my sports teams win…and I can’t wait for that to happen again…maybe…

But that’s not even close to the type of love that we are speaking of today.

I love my job here at Heritage.  I love all of you and I love the hopes and dreams and plans that we have made together over the past ten years.  I love the fact that despite everything that has happened to us and to our society, our church continues to try to reach more and more people each week in various ways.   I just LOVE that!

But again – that’s not the type of love that we are speaking of today.

I love my friends.  I love my family.  There is a good reason we refer to groups like that as our “loved ones.”  I love those ones.  I certainly care more about them than I do about holiday foods and the Advent and Christmas seasons and my sports teams.

I love them all so much more than I love myself.

But that is not even the type of love that we are speaking of today.

I am speaking of the love that God inspires – because God also loves us.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, and when her son John moved within her, the excitement, the thrill, the Holy Spirit – and the love that Elizabeth felt at that moment revealed God’s love; the fact that Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy, “she who was said to be barren,” as the Angel Gabriel told Mary, made the love in that moment even more unexpected.

We don’t hear about Zechariah’s love for that same son, John.  Zechariah, the high priest, was tasked by the angel to name his unexpected son John.  Because Zechariah didn’t believe, he was struck mute until the day John was named.  So, the son was named according to the order from the angel –

but did Zechariah love his son?  I’d like to think he did.   

When Mary herself sang for joy to the Lord for all that had happened, and all that was to come, we know of Mary’s faith, Mary’s obedience, Mary’s hope, and even Mary’s peace that became her confidence; we know this despite the fact that Mary was a young unmarried woman who somehow became pregnant.  But we also know of Mary’s love for her Lord…her child.

We don’t know for sure about Joseph’s love for Jesus.  After all, Joseph becomes engaged to Mary, and then finds out she is pregnant – and the child isn’t his.  Imagine his first thought…imagine his heartbreak.  He could have turned his back on her and that child growing within her.  Yet, everything was clearly explained to Joseph in a dream, so he stayed with her.  But did Joseph love his son?  Where is the proof? 

Again, I’d like to think he did.

Everything that Mary did, everything that we read about in Scripture, points to the unwavering love that Mary had for the Lord.  I can only imagine how blessed she felt.  She must have also felt the love of God in return, not the burden of God’s love.  She sang!  She didn’t mumble or grouse.  She cried out with joy!

That’s the love that we are speaking of today.

Neither Elizabeth nor her cousin, Mary, had ANY expectation of becoming pregnant when the stories about the two of them began.  Neither had any significance in history up to this time.  It was the love that God had for both of them that led to the love of these two extraordinary, unexpected mothers for their sons.

When we love one another, we are modeling the love that Jesus showed us when He walked the earth.   We are modeling our own love of God. 

When we forgive each other out of love – not out of obligation or because the preacher makes you feel guilty – we are modeling our own love of God.

When we are hurting and afraid and alone and desperate and cold and hungry, we are still loved.

When we reject the Lord, He still loves us anyway.  Think of how it must hurt Him.

But at Christmas, it’s almost as if all of us get to start over with just loving our Lord.  And our wonderfully wise Lord does a wonderful thing: He gives us a baby to love as a representation of His love for us.

Who doesn’t love a baby?  When a baby comes our way – at church, at the mall, in an elevator – which of us doesn’t at least try to sneak a peek at that baby?  If a baby is showing a lot of personality, which of us can look away and ignore that baby? 

If pictures are being taken with Santa, which of us can walk past without at least slowing down to see how the picture’s going?

For the love of God gave us a baby.  How clever is our God!

For the love of God is greater than anything we can imagine.  It seeks us out constantly.  It is everlasting.  It extends beyond a relationship with us as individuals and brings others into our community of love.  And it is often amazingly unexpected.

I will close with the familiar Christmas words of Scripture that should fill all of us with love:

“For unto us a child is born…”