You Are Mary
You are Mary
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I will do my best on what is really the beginning of the advent for us. I want to say again something that we have shared before, “You are Mary. Each one of you are Mary, Jesus’ mother. That’s why Christmas for us is in a way our new birth.” The other religions of course cannot understand Christianity because they always emphasize God’s transcendence. That is God’s being a wholly other being distanced from us and apart from us. They have great difficulty with God imminent. Even the Hindus who sense we are part of the great ‘OM’, the great spirit in the world, don’t believe that spirit is a person who is inside us. They think that that is impossible and indeed an insult to the deity.
So they have great trouble with this whole concept — God in us. I think that’s why we ourselves have trouble with it. You hear me say that and you think we’re Mary. You personally are Mary. In God’s plan you are the human being in whom God’s Son is born and lives. We have a strong tendancy to that and say no, no; God’s own Son cannot actually dwell in a human being. Yes, Joseph was his father. But really his sperm was not there. You couldn’t have the Son of the Maker of the universe, the one in whom the stars, planets and spaces were made; you couldn’t have that inside a human being, could you?
So he was inside Mary. Yes, but he can’t be inside me. It is a difficult one to believe. Look at John 15:5 the whole chapter is that, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” You try to get out of it I am the branch. We sprout from him. We know the branches and the vine itself — you can hardly tell the difference between one and the other. Then, he says, “Abide in me, and I in you.” [Verse 4] As long as you abide in me that means stay in me. It doesn’t mean come into me. It assumes that we are in him and if we abide in him consciously ourselves — if we live in that reality then we will bear fruit. He prays to his father and says, “I in you and you in me.” Then he says I in you all of you here and you in me. Colossians says we were made in him and through him and in him we hold together. [Colossians 1:15-20]
That’s why I say you are Mary. The normal life for us human beings here on earth is not a life in Jesus but a life of Jesus in us. That’s why Christmas is so dear to us. I agree with you. You don’t know Martin Buber probably, the famous philosopher [1878 – 1965], his book is titled “I and Thou” relationship. We all know John 15 much of it by heart and we know alot of John 17 where Jesus says I in you and you in me. [Verse 21] We tend to say I believe that. That is the ‘I-It’ relationship, not the ‘I-Thou’ relationship. That is what Buber is saying most people have the ‘I-It’ relationship. They relate to the truth. If he was here he would say they relate to the truth that Jesus is in them. That’s what we tend to do.
We tend to say I know about Christmas. I know it means Jesus was inside Mary and inside me. I know that truth. I never actually believe that he is in me. I don’t talk to him. I know he is there and that thought gives me strength. Often that thought gives me incentive in my will to behave in a certain manner. He is at the right hand of God isn’t he, making intercession for the saints? But Jesus said if I do not go the comforter will not come to you. But when I go the Father will send the counsellor to you and he will be in you. He will take the things that are mine and impart them to you. That is I will be in you as the Holy Spirit and I will live in you the life that the Father has planned. That’s why I say you are Mary. You are not a little human being trying to be like
Jesus. You are not a little human being trying to live by certain truths, such as the truth that Jesus is in you.
You are a person in whom Jesus lives and if you say oh, yes, I know I experience the same thing as everyone else. You are meant to experience something that no one else has experienced. That’s why you are here. God does not need more little fun objects that will make heaven interesting. He does not need more little people all of whom have different faces, even if they are renewed faces in heaven. He does not need more crowds. His Son is so wonderful that he needs to express himself through you. That’s why you were made. There is an expression of Jesus that he himself has resolved to magnify and manifest through you. When you live as if he isn’t in you, he is again abandoned, forsaken and ignored. That is why Studdart-Kennedy said in the poem that he crouched against the wall and cried for Calvary because of the indifference. It’s the poem he calls, ‘Indifference’.
So for us, Christmas is our opportunity to enter realistically into our place as Mary. That’s the purpose of your life and mine. Every time we fail to express Christ we are absolutely not just ignoring him we are absolutely rejecting him. When we are aware of an attitude that is not like him, that’s not the worst of it. The terrible thing is that we have nailed him into a casket again. We have rolled the stone again in front of his grave. We have forced him shut his mouth and to keep his love to himself. That’s it.
You are Mary — you carry Jesus within you. Every time we fall short of the glory of God, it is not so much because of something we have done; it’s because of our ignoring of our Savior within us. It’s because we are so full of ourselves which is nothing but something that has already been condemned to death. We are so full of nothingness that we cannot hear him or sense his spirit. That’s why our prayer times are often short of what God has planned because those times are opportunities for Christ himself to pray for the saints through us — to intercede at the right hand of God. We always talk about him interceding at the right hand of God because it is easier for us to imagine it. He’s doing his work and we are doing our work. He can only pray from earth at the right hand of God. He can only pray through our spirits. Through each one of us he knows every corner in your bedroom. Through each one of us he knows every flower in your vases. Through each one of us he knows every little line you write to relatives or friends. It is through each one of us that he is able to touch all the corners of the earth.
If you think of it it is kind of meaningless the idea we have of the Holy Spirit search out there every corner on his own. Oh, is he? Does he have to do that because God doesn’t know? Who is he doing it for? Is he bringing back reports? It is Jesus in you that touches the corners of this earth. It is Jesus in you that sees the things that go on in this world. It is Jesus in you that loves other people on behalf of his Father. You can see that is the point of St. Patrick’s shield — Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, and Christ without me. It’s Jesus — for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To live is Christ — that’s what living means. So my whole life, mind and thought is preoccupied with the one who owns this life. When he is allowed to live there is a kindly, soft gentleness in our spirits and in our lives. Christmas for us is the light in our lives. It is what life is all about for us. That’s why I say a lot of evangelicalism is so hard. It’s so hard. It’s so mental and emotional. It’s full of good ideas, good thoughts, good teaching and good principles. It’s so dead — so separate from the warm, loving Jesus, the Savior and the Father. That’s our calling. Our calling is to carry the host around as the Catholics would say. But really in a way, we are to be carried by the host and to be motivated by the host. I have trouble with this next phrase because we so often have mutilated it
— to be an expression of Christ. It is my job to be an expression of Christ — whoever he is. My job is to let Jesus say what he wants to say using my lips and using my hands and my face. That’s what I am here for.
It is even more real than it was for Mary. It is even more real because the baby did come out of her. But while he was in her she had Jesus within. Jesus did not return there until after he was risen from the dead and ascended to the Father. Then he prayed to the Father to ask that he would send his Spirit, the Holy Spirit. That’s why the Bible says the Spirit is the Lord within you. He is Jesus within you. That’s why we say it is not an ‘It’. That’s why we say it is not the ‘baptism of the Spirit’ that makes the difference. It is Jesus himself. You are saved by the Savior inside you. There is within you a Holy Being, a Holy Person. He is your dear Friend and Lord he is your dear Brother. He is Jesus and this is our birthday in him.
Let us pray.
Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of our Heavenly Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be made real to you today and throughout this week. Amen.