Sunday, December 21, 2014

“Living the Impossible” (Luke 1:26-38)

At one time it was thought impossible to sail around the world . . . in 1519 Ferdinand Magellan did the impossible.

For centuries people thought that it was impossible for humans to fly . . . on December 17th, 1903 the Wright brothers—Orville and Wilbur—flew the first successful airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

On April 12th, 1961 the Soviet Union put the first human being into space despite the fact that most people believed that it would be impossible to ever put a human in space.

History is filled with examples of the impossible becoming possible.  If a person were to sit down and talk to an individual in their nineties or at the century mark it would be amazing the stories of change that they could tell.  From the transportation of walking by foot or traveling by horse to automobiles, airplanes, and train . . . these people would tell you of the impossible becoming possible.  Communication . . . from simple paper and stamps delivered by air or train . . . to cell phones that all allow instantaneous communication from practically any place on the planet . . . who would have ever believed.  I think any person who has witnessed the transition of life in the past hundred years would speak of amazement in the amount of impossibilities that became realities. 

We should never assume that anything is impossible.  History and life prove us wrong.  Nothing is impossible.

Ask Mary.

Mary was a young woman who was engaged to be married when an angel of God appeared to her.  The angel told her that she would soon be pregnant.  The news shocked her . . . it was impossible . . . impossible because she had never been with a man and even she understood that it took two to tango.  So, how in the world she be pregnant?  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Well, inquiring minds want to know . . . how can this be?  It is impossible.  Yet the angel assures her that it will happen and not only will it happen, but that the child will be the Son of God.  Then the angel assures Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

And, so, it came to be.  Mary believed and the story was set into motion.  A child would be born . . . a miraculous birth that would stun the world in its simplicity and its power . . . a birth that would change the world and its people forever.  Out of the impossible the possible was manifested . . . and, who would have ever thought that it was possible in the first place?

“For nothing is impossible with God.”

So why do we still not believe?  Why do we not trust God?

History and life have proven us wrong time after time when it comes to the impossible being achieved . . . just consider the span of your own lifetime and all the changes you never thought would happen.  Where there is belief there is always the possibility . . . ask Mary and she would tell you . . . with God all things are possible.

You have to believe.  Belief is the key . . . the key to change . . . the key of achieving the impossible.  Mary believed and the world was changed forever. 

As the followers of Jesus we are living the impossible.  We are striving for an impossible dream . . . a kingdom of peace and love and harmony . . . a kingdom in which all people love and respect one another for who God created them to be . . . a place where there is no war . . . a place where all are for one in helping one another become all that God created them to be . . . the Kingdom of God.

As the followers of Jesus we strive to live our lives in such a way that we are not only the reflection of our Lord and Savior, but that we become an extension of his love and grace.  Again, an impossibility in the minds of many, but one that we believe.

We are living the impossible in our day and age.  The heralds have proclaimed that the faith is dying . . . that the “church” is on its way out . . . and, that no one believes.  Yet, here we are . . . grasping and clinging onto hope and belief.  Hope and belief that what this blessed event started so long ago is still possible . . . that God’s Kingdom will come . . . that we can achieve the impossible.  All because we believe.

But, it is hard to believe when we are confronted with the impossible.  Hard to believe when no one else wants to believe with us.  Wasn’t that the first reaction of Mary?  Didn’t she find it difficult to believe?  Are these not her own words: “How will this be?”

With words of encouragement the angel told her to believe.  Believe and God will take care of the rest.  The Holy Spirit will be the guide . . . will be the support . . . to make the impossible possible.

Years ago I was heard a speaker talk about being invited to a church to share about the virgin birth story . . . of which she did eloquently.  Despite her beautiful words and definite belief in the virgin birth, there were many there who continued to not believe.  After the presentation there was a time for coffee, conversation, and networking among those gathered.  Many lined up to argue and debate with the presenter.  There was one young man—a teenager—who waited patiently until he had the opportunity to address the speaker.

When he shared with those gathered around the speaker that he believed in the virgin birth he was confronted by some who were listening.  They wanted to know how a smart young man like him could ever believe in such a story . . . such an impossible story.  His answer?  He stated that he did not know whether or not the story happened the way that it did, but that because it was such a beautiful story he had to believe that it happened.  He believed and thus it was so.

To change the impossible to the possible one has to believe.  Through belief all things are possible . . . especially with God.

As the followers of Jesus we must believe.  We must believe or we are wasting our time making this Advent journey to that little town of Bethlehem.  We must believe or our mere existence as the followers of Jesus is a sham and waste of our time and energy.  We must believe if we are to ever accomplish that which others say is impossible.  We must believe.

Sometimes the best encouragement does not come from some mystical experience, but from life itself.  One of the most powerful and lyrical statements of the power of belief in overcoming the impossible comes from the musical, The Man of Mancha . . . the story of a dreamer seeking the impossible.  The main character is Don Quixote who is a dreamer . . . a dreamer seeking to change the world.  It is in the song, The Impossible Dream, that speaks of the power of believing.  He speaks to us as the followers of Jesus in this time of living the impossible:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Remember what the angel told Mary?  “For nothing is impossible with God.”  Believe.  Amen.

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