Children of Promise – Luke 1:26-38

Luke 1:26-38
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
I am the second of three children, and I can remember when I was the second of two. I remember waiting at home in the living room, fighting with my sister about whether our new sibling would be a boy or a girl. It''s not that my parents desired to surprise us – it''s that my youngest sibling was being uncooperative with the medical staff. Twice my parents had had an ultrasound, and twice the little baby that would be my youngest brother or sister, was what OBGYN''s call “shy”. I was firmly convinced that it would be a girl – look at the odds! My sister, could the baby ignore precedent? My sister was firmly in the boy camp – I guess she was tired of sisters and needed a little change. And when we couldn''t fight anymore, we waited. And waited. And waited. When would this child come? When would we know who it was? Who is this promised child?
Who is this promised child? That''s the perennial parent''s question. Who is my child? Who will they be? What will they do? How will they struggle, succeed and fail? Who is my child? This question has been asked ever since women and men discovered that they could conceive. Adam and Eve probably asked it. So did Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, Hannah. The Bible is not only filled with is filled with babies and the time of anticipation that preceded their births. And both their origins and their births weren''t always what we call ''normal'' - God''s Chosen Children come from all times and all places
Leonardo DaVinci was what we call a Renaissance man. He spoke multiple languages, he dallied in higher mathematics, he was a consummate artist and an eccentric inventor. We discover more about his genius each day, but did you know that he was the illegitimate son of a nobleman? The child Leonardo should have amounted to nothing. His mother was a poor serving girl, abused and later neglected by the man who got her pregnant. Leonardo could have ended up like countless other street urchins: a criminal, or a bum, or worse he could have died at an early age of disease or violence. This child was no-one''s bet on the next great mind or next great artist. This child was no-one''s long expected promise. And yet, Leonardo DaVinci was a great mind, a great artist, a great promising figure who left an indelible mark in the world. He was not the only child like this.
Children of Promise – Luke 1:26-38
In our scripture, the angel Gabriel has showed up to poor little Mary and trumpeted “Guess what virgin? You''re pregnant!” Mary, being a reasonable 14 year old, is stunned and says, “but I''ve never been with a man.” Gabriel, undeterred responds, “Oh I know. The Spirit of God''s gonna pass over you, so don''t worry about that. And your kid? Name him Jesus, he''ll be the Son of the Most High God.” Hearing that, maybe Mary feels a little better about the whole situation...but apparently her family and friends sure don''t. When Mary starts showing signs of being pregnant, the town starts whispering “who is this child?” The same question that Mary asked in joy and fear, those surrounding her ask in disgust and anger - “who is this child? Who is this child?” So Mary fled and went to her cousin Elizabeth''s. The baby that Mary would have was a child of shame. She was betrothed to another man who the town knew as honorable, so it couldn''t be his. She must have been unfaithful. She deserved to be stoned. What an entrance for Jesus. To all the world, he was a child of sin, but in the eyes of Heaven, he was the long awaited Child of Promise.
Having God''s only son born to a virgin in rural Palestine next to lowing livestock is definitely surprising. Having God born at all is breathtakingly surprising! But throughout the Old Testament, God''s chosen children, come from more than just surprising circumstance: Children of Promise come from scandalous places!
I must admit to you today that I enjoy celebrity gossip much too much for my own good. I know my favorite scandalous story, and I''m sure you have your own as well. But we all know what scandal is at its root – notable people making bad decisions and getting caught. We enjoy it – but we don''t want to be a part of it. But apparently, God works with people who would scandalize us. And the scandalous couples of the Old Testament give us some of the most important children we read about.
Remember that crotchety geriatric couple? They were childless and homeless, at least 90 years a piece and the husband kept trying to foist the wife off on other men to save his old skin. The old man even had a child by their maid because his wife forced him into it! Abraham and Sarah, despite their undeserving behavior, received a child of promise: Isaac. Or how about the couple that met through adultery? Her husband was off in the army, he was a very powerful politician and he decided the grass was greener on the other side. After he arranged a midnight meeting where he made her an offer she couldn''t refuse, she got pregnant, her husband got mysteriously killed in battle and then she quickly was married off to the powerful politician. Their first baby died, but they had another. David and Bathsheba, despite David''s great sin, received a child of promise: Solomon. And then there''s the couple closer to Jesus'' own time: he was a minister, she was a stay-at-home mom, though the mom part was mostly for other people''s kids: she was barren. An angel visited the minister in the church to tell him about the impending birth of his long hoped for child, and the minister didn''t believe what the angel said. So, the minister came home mute and stayed that way till his child was born. Zechariah and Elizabeth had a child of promise: John. How peculiar! God''s chosen children, come from families of adultery, disbelief and homelessness. God''s chosen children come from unwed mothers, foreign women and barren old ladies. Scandalous. Outrageous. Thank goodness.
Though Jesus was the ultimate child of promise, God''s chosen children are still being born. You see: YOU are a Child of Promise.
Children of Promise – Luke 1:26-38
By virtue of a very special birth, all of you reading this story are children of promise. Did you know that? I know because of the first chapter of the gospel of John. Verses 10-13 read: “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” Let me repeat that last part “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” Whether your birth was an occasion of joy or sorrow, whether your parents gave you up or kept you, whether you were celebrated as child of promise or mourned as a child of regret, you may now be certain: By virtue of your faith in Jesus Christ you have been born of God and are forevermore a Child of Promise!
Is that significant to you? It should be! Not only did God anticipate your physical birth, he also longed for the day when you would be born to him spiritually. Because of this second birth, your name now takes a place amongst those celebrated and iconic names of other promised children. Alongside the name Isaac is the name Kevin. Alongside the name Solomon is the name Marjorie. Alongside the name John is the name Peyton. And alongside the name Jesus - your name is listed. Whatever you were once, you are now God''s child. You have been named – and your new name is this: beloved, long-expected, hotly anticipated, child of promise.
On that day, almost 20 years ago, I eventually did find out who my youngest sibling was. It was a boy. When he first came home, I was unimpressed, but eventually I grew to love the happy, roly-poly, no- neck baby that became my brother. The child I had anticipated, waited for, longed to hold, was finally here, and he was my brother, my own. When you go home today, look into the mirror at yourself, and ask: Who is this child? Who is the child of promise? I am. I am. I am. In this way, you will know a little of what God feels when he sees you. Where is my long-expected child? There he is. There she is. There they are.
May you remember that you are a cherished one as you await the birth of the Cherished One.