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Sermon: University of Surrey Carol Service Address

John McCarthy
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
University of Surrey Carol Service

Faith Hope and Love, a reflection for the university carol service December 2014

It was just an Angel, standing before a girl, declaring God's love for her.  God makes himself vulnerable, he does not impose but he makes himself vulnerable, he leaves open the possibility that his love will not be reciprocated, he acts in hope, he has faith in the girl, but he leaves himself open to the possibility that he will be rejected.  God makes himself vulnerable.

Many of us know this feeling.  We tell someone that we love them for the first time.  We cannot be 100% sure that this expression of love will be accepted, let alone be reciprocated, we hope, we have gained knowledge of the other so we have some faith that it might be, but love is a big word, it makes us vulnerable, but without it we are not fully human.

God makes himself vulnerable.  He sends his angel to Mary, he asks her to reciprocate his declaration of love, he asks her to cooperate in his plan for the salvation of the world.  She can say no.  But she instead says ‘let it be done to me according to your will’.  She shows her love, acts in faith; she hopes in God, that all will be well.  She goes much further she embraces the vulnerability of God.  

With the incarnation, God again is made vulnerable; Jesus comes as a baby, totally reliant on his mother for food, warmth and shelter.  He comes into the ordinariness of human life, he grows, learns becomes a man.  He fulfils his destiny as the Sacrificial Lamb, fully human, but fully God.  At no time does he exhibit the strength of a great king, he rises above that, he is all things, he is the beginning and the end, he is strong because he is vulnerable.  As he stretches his arms on the cross, he opens his arms in a loving embrace, he offers us everything,  he hangs before us, on the cross, declaring his love for us, he cannot be certain that we will reciprocate, but he acts in faith because he knows us through and through, he acts in hope, because he made us, he acts in love.  Will you stand with Mary and say Yes?