A Blessed Visitation
Fourth Sunday in Advent Trinity Lutheran Church
20 December 2015 Murdock, NE
+Jesu Juva +
As soon as the sound of Mary’s greeting reaches Elizabeth’s ears, the baby – John the Baptist, leaps for joy in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
I hope you heard what I just said. I’ll say it again. The sound of Mary’s voice causes unborn in the womb baby John to jump for joy. Here he is, a fetus, barely six months old in his mother’s womb, not yet born, and he is already preaching Christ! The sound of Mary’s voice fills John with joy.
Who says that babies can’t believe? Who would dare to argue that even unborn children do not benefit from being in church and hearing God’s voice through His Word? If the sound of Mary’s greeting filled the baby Baptizer with joy and his mother with the Holy Spirit, how much more will the sound of the living voice of Jesus bring life, joy and the Holy Spirit to the unborn and to their mothers! Brothers and sisters, coming to the divine service regularly, hearing God’s Word, eating and drinking the Sacrament is a vital part of every Christian woman’s pre-natal care. It’s time we start taking that seriously here at Trinity! Can anyone say that an unborn child does not benefit from the sound of God’s Word in the speaking and preaching of it?
The same holds true for all the little ones even after they’re born. They too need to hear God’s Word even before they know what all the words mean. They need to rejoice in the sound of the forgiveness of sins. In the syllables of salvation. In the verbs that deliver eternal life. The little children need to grow into the vocabulary of eternal life. They will have all eternity to master it but the earlier the start, the better. Think of St. Timothy, whom St. Paul said was acquainted with the Holy Scriptures since he was a little baby. Thanks be to God for St. Timothy’s mother and grandmother! They made sure little Timothy went to church regularly to hear and learn God’s Word.
Brothers and sisters, let this serve as a very important lesson for us all. This is a salvation at stake issue. It is salvationly dangerous to withhold God’s Word from little children with the rational excuse that they supposedly cannot understand and fully participate. It is salvation at stake dangerous to deprive a baptized infant the very Word that gave her rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
UNBORN JOHN THE BAPTIST, leaping for joy in his mother’s womb, puts an end to such nonsense. You let your children sit in front of screens 24-7-365 soaking up all sorts of things. What your children need to be soaking up is the sound of God’s Holy Spirit-ed Word from the Bible, sung by the historic hymns and the faithful liturgy, and confessed with the ancient creeds and Small Catechism that have been handed down to the church.
Perhaps you noticed something else going on in this visit between the two cousins. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, BLESSES Mary and her holy Child. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Child you will bear.”
Elizabeth is honors Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” Did you hear that? It’s incredible. Better hear it again. Elizabeth, full of the Holy Spirit confesses Mary as the “mother of my Lord.” That’s is precisely why the church correctly calls Mary “the Theotokos” – the bearer of God or the mother of God or the mother of our Lord.
One of our hymns, “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones” #670 blesses Mary as the bearer of the eternal Word Jesus Christ! It’s stanza two. I’ll sing it to you
O higher than the cherubim
More glorious than the seraphim
Lead their praises: Alleluia!
Thou bearer of the-eternal Word
Most gracious magnify the Lord:
Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Yes, Mary is the bearer of the eternal Word, the mother of the Christ, the Son of God. She is the door through whom God entered our world. She is the temple in which the Savior deigned to dwell as a tiny unborn Child. She is the chosen and honored instrument of the Incarnation of God, through whom the Son of God received His Body that He would offer it for the life of the world. Yes, Mary is rightly to be blessed among women and blessed by all generations to come!
Ladies, especially you younger women, you have a magnificent role model with Mary. The culture in which you live glorifies false Madonnas like the Kardashian sisters, Katy Perry and Rihanna in which chastity and virginity are mocked and demonized while premarital sex and homosexuality are exalted and enforced as the norm. Ladies, Mary stands out as a picture of what happens when God’s Word has its way with someone. Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. She believes God. She trusts His Word. Her song of praise, the Magnificat, shows you that she knew the Bible by heart. She knew the psalms. She listened and trusted the sermon preached by Gabriel. She gave her “Amen” to the humanly impossible task of being the virgin mother of the world’s Savior!
In addition, Mary is a picture of God’s favor or grace to you. God love you so much that He sends His Son to be born of a virgin mother. God deigns to be dependent on a young girl for nourishment and care. God puts Himself into her arms. He lets Himself be diapered and bathed by her, even though He is her God and Savior. “King of kings, yet born of Mary!”
No wonder Elizabeth blesses her cousin Mary. And so should you. Now, don’t misunderstand. Mary is blessed not because in and of herself she is holy or pure. She is blessed because the eternal Word is conceived in her by the Holy Spirit. She is the instrument of the Lord’s incarnation. She is blessed and honored because the Lord chose her to give birth to Jesus. He is her Savior. He is your Savior. The world’s Savior!
And that’s why Mary’s soul magnifies the LORD. That’s why her spirit rejoices in God her Savior. She directs your attention to Jesus – her Child! She teaches you to worship Jesus in humility and fear, for His “mercy extends to those who fear him.”
Mary teaches you to receive God’s gift of salvation in Jesus through faith. She reminds you that God is the One who keeps His Word. He remembers to “be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as He spoke to our fathers.” God keeps His promises. The promise he made to Adam and Eve after they sinned. The promise He made to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel. The promise He made to you when you were baptized. The promise He renews whenever you hear His word of forgiveness.
Finally, Mary is a picture of all baptized believers in Christ. You, the believer are virgin pure and holy, washed by the blood of Jesus that cleanses every spot and stain of your sin. Jesus has cleansed your hearts with His blood. Now Jesus deigns to dwell in you, to make your body His temple, to be conceived and born in your hearts.
With blessed Mary, you too are blessed. Blessed are you – you who believe that what the Lord has said to you, is true and reliable. Most certain.
In the Name of Jesus.