And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  (Luke 1:38)





fourth sunday in advent

Sermon Starter

Even after all these years, the Beatles are still popular – so much so that a recently released Beatles song, “Now and Then” reached #1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay Chart. It was the first #1 on a Billboard radio airplay chart since “Let It Be.” Though “Let It Be” is a great song, at least for those who like the Beatles, there’s a reason we are not singing it in the Divine Service on the Fourth Sunday in Advent. Where “Let It Be” leaves off is with, well, just letting it be. If you just let things be, you are left without any certainty. There has to be more to letting things be than simply letting them be.

The more, as Mary said in the Gospel reading for Sunday, is ‘according to your word’. That is, according to the Word of God. We must let it be but according to God’s Word.

Paul McCartney’s lyrics in the song “Let It Be” give us some helpful wisdom. But not much more than that. Ultimately they leave us without hope, without certainty. He tells of how he came up with the lyrics for the song. During a difficult time in his life he had a dream where his mother, whose name was Mary, spoke to him to give him comfort. He relates that she told him, “It will be all right, just let it be.” Again, that’s really good advice and there is tremendous wisdom in it. How often do we kick against the goads? How many times do we make matters worse by taking things into our own hands when we should just let things go and leave them be?

But there is another Mary who understood that there is no real certainty in leaving things at just letting them be. Her response to Gabriel was, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Mary trusted that what the angel Gabriel was telling her was the Word of God. She submitted to this Word; this Word that came from God. She let things be. But she let them be according to God’s way. I don’t doubt for a moment that Paul McCartney had a dream in which his mother Mary whispered words of wisdom to him. What I believe, though, is that the Mary we should be taking our cue from is the Mary who spoke words of wisdom in saying that she was the servant of the Lord, that she would let it be according to the Lord’s word.

Collect of the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.