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Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 21, 2008

Fourth Sunday in Advent           Trinity Lutheran Church
21 December 2008                     Murdock, NE

                                                        + Jesu Juva +

St. Luke 1:26-38

Mary.  A virgin. Engaged to be married to Joseph.  All the planning for the wedding.  All the anticipation.  Many of you still remember the excitement of your engagement and the joy of getting ready to be married.  Wedding rings to buy.  Mom’s wedding dress to mend.  Bridesmaid dresses.  Rehearsal dinner.  Wedding cakes.  Book a band.  Photographer.  Premarital classes with the pastor.  Tuxedos to rent.  The list is endless.  And so is the thrill of getting everything ready. 

Then God throws a gigantic wrench into the wedding plans.  God has something on His mind.  What’s always been on His mind.  It will just blow Mary away.  It would blow you away too.

He sends a messenger.  The archangel Gabriel.  To Mary.  With an announcement.  A promise.  Any of you ever seen an archangel?  Can you imagine?  If only our eyes could see.  They are present with Jesus in the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.  They watch over you every day of your life.  And so we pray, “Let your holy angel be with me that the evil foe may have no power over me,” (Small Catechism).  But I digress.  Better get back to the text. 

Gabriel speaks:  “Greetings Mary!  You are highly favored.  The Lord is with you.”  Good thing he says that.  The sight of an archangel might give you the heebie-jeebies.  Make you believe you’re in deep trouble.  Maybe he’s come to wrestle with Mary like the angel of the Lord that wrestled with Jacob that one night.  Maybe he’s there to deliver bad news. 

None of that.  Instead, “Hello highly favored Mary.  The Lord’s with you.”   All right.  This angelic visit isn’t for her destruction. 

And yet Mary wonders about it.  You would too.  And so Gabriel speaks some more.  Reassuring words.  Comforting words.  “Don’t be afraid Mary.  God’s favor rests on you.  God’s not against you.  He’s for you.”

The archangel’s not done.  He hasn’t delivered the Lord’s promise.  A surprising promise.  An astonishing oath.  “Mary, listen carefully.  YOU WILL BE WITH CHILD AND GIVE BIRTH TO A SON.”

“No duh Gabriel!  Don’t you know Mary’s engaged?  She’ll be married to Joseph soon enough.  Of course she’ll have a baby.  First there’s the wedding ceremony.  Then comes the honeymoon.  And then . . . well, you know, the baby carriage.  No need to go into the details even for an archangel.”

You folks really shouldn’t interrupt.  Not even an archangel.  Gabriel, please finish what you were saying.  “Thank you Reverend.  As I was saying.  Mary my dear, you’re going to have a baby.  A boy.  You don’t get to pick out his name.  It’s already chosen.  Jesus will be his name.  He will be great.  The Son of the Most High God.  He is the promised son of King David.  Your baby will be the messianic king of Israel.  And he will reign forever.”

“All right Gabriel.  I hear what you’re saying. Sure I’m engaged.  But Joseph and I will not be together until after the wedding.  A honeymoon is planned at a resort on the Sea of Galilee.  So just one question please.  How can I have a baby since I’m still a virgin?”

“Excellent question Mary.  Things aren’t going to happen the way you think.  You’ll have a baby all right.  But Joseph won’t be the daddy.  Instead, the Holy Spirit will come upon you.  The power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

Do you all realize what Gabriel’s saying?  Do you realize what’s happening?  It’s so remarkable.  Mary conceives this baby by the Holy Spirit!  This is a divine miracle.  And just exactly how does the Holy Spirit get this pregnancy going?  BY THE WORDS SPOKEN IN MARY’S EARS!  Yes, that’s right.  Mary gets pregnant by the Holy Spirit-filled promise that penetrates the holes of her ears!  That’s how the Holy Spirit comes upon her.  That’s how the power of the Most High overshadows her.  By God’s Word of promise.  The Holy Spirit and God’s Word of promise work together.  And so we confess in the Creed:  “Conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Born of the Virgin Mary.”

And so this baby boy is true man:  born of the Virgin Mary.  Of the lineage of King David.  And also true God.  “So the holy one to be born will be called, THE SON OF GOD.”  This is how the Second Person of the Trinity, God’s Son, takes on flesh to save His people from their sins.  This is how the salvation job gets into full swing.  This is how God justifies the ungodly. 

Most surprising.  Most amazing.  Nothing is impossible with God when He sets His mind to doing the Good Friday job through His Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. 

But then comes another big surprise.  Mary’s reaction.  Another miracle.  A Holy Spirit wrought miracle.  No, “well there go my wedding plans up in smoke!”  No, “you’ve just ruined my life and my marriage with Joseph!  He won’t have anything to do with me now!”  And especially no, “thanks but no thanks!”

Just the opposite:  “May it happen to me just as you have said.”  She takes the Lord at His Word.  She’ll receive what the Lord gives her and the world through her.

And that’s a Savior.  Hers.  Yours.  The world’s.  Jesus.  The God-man Savior Jesus conceived in her by the Holy Spirit.  The promised Messiah has come.  The Son of God grows in her belly. 

He comes for you.  To deliver you from sin, death and the devil.  That’s His Calvary death for you.

With His wounds showing this Son of the Most High God Jesus makes promises to you too:  “You have My holy Name given to you in Baptism.  At the font I buried you into My death that answers for all your sins.  Take the bread.  Eat it.  It’s My Body.  And the cup, well, it’s My Blood.  The new testament that gives the inheritance of complete and full forgiveness.  I promise.  And more.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life.  And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Astonishing!  Stupendous!  And faith’s answer to Christ’s promise is:  “May it be to me just as you’ve said.  Your word of promise is what saves me.  I am comforted.  Thank you.  Thank you Jesus.”

See you this Wednesday for more joy in this Baby Son of the Most High God Jesus. 

In the Name of Jesus.  


From → "B" Sermons

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