I’ve started working on my sermon for Sunday.  I find the lessons pretty interesting.  In our first reading (II Samuel 7:1-11, 16) we find King David trying to use God to shore up his emerging dynasty.  David has secured his hold over both the northern and southern kingdoms, unifying them for the first time.  His personal army has also just secured Jerusalem, a new addition that had not been part of either kingdom.  David has built his house of (expensive) cedar in Jerusalem, which will become known as the city of David.  And he decides he’s like to house the ark of God, which has traveled with the people in a tent since the exodus, in a permanent temple.

In other words, he wants a permanent, tangible symbol of the link between his dynasty and God.  He want’s to play the God card to prop up his dynasty.

God isn’t having any of it.  I brought you out of the pastures, God tells David, and made you a prince of my people.  I gave you your fancy home.  And now you want to put me in a house of your building?  Your throne will be established before me forever.  But it will be on my terms.  Only I can play the God card.

David’s dynasty lasted some 400 years before it fell.  And shortly thereafter, his line disappears from public record.  So if God has established David’s throne forever, God has done this in a way that David had never imagined.

Our gospel reading brings us to that part of the story.  Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, which is all that’s left, is under Roman rule.  Foreign pagans have subjugated God’s people, and they are looking for a new David to throw them out.  God has other plans.

God is looking for a new way to come into the world.  God is looking for a new way of working in the world.  He finds his point of entry in the person of a young woman.  We’d probably call her a girl.  My best guess is that she was 12 or 13 years old.  Marriage documents seem to have been signed between her and an older man.  I’m guessing Joseph could have been anything from about 15 to about 30.  They were living apart, with the marriage unconsumated — probably because they were giving her an extra year to grow up first.  And God sends a messanger to her (Luke 1:26-38 — our gospel reading).

God asks her to make a home for him.  God asks her to bear a child and call him Jesus.

Accepting God’s plans for her mean she is giving up the life she had planned.  Her marriage is probably gone.  In fact, her pregnancy is proof of adultery, and she might be stoned to death.  If she survives, she can never hope to be married again.  No one would ever have her.  And she has no hope for legitimate employment.  Women simply did not work outside the home.  She might possibly remain as a disgraced servant in the home of a family member.  She might be thrown out in the street to beg, or worse.  I think we take Mary for granted.  But Mary put her whole life on the line for God — everything she had and everything she ever hoped to have.

On the face of it, there is nothing in it for her in God’s plans.  But when God asks, Mary replies, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have done that.  But that’s how God made himself a home in this world.  That’s how Jesus came to us.