2020-12-20 Advent 4
Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!
When I was at Concordia, our University choir got to go on choir tour to Germany way back in 2000 and it was a blast. Cheapest trip ever too. $1200 for round trip flights and staying there for a month! We got to sing in massive stone cathedrals where the music of the Reformation was born. We even got to go to Expo 2000 in Hanover. We were supposed to sing there but there was some kind of hiccup with the venue. So we got in for free and spent the day touring around the exhibits. It was great! Our choir director bought this t-shirt with big black and red garish text that said “Ich Chef, Du Nix!” Translation: “I’m the Boss, you’re nothing!” It’s a great shirt. Every parent should have one the day their kids are born to set the record straight! But alas, as every expecting mother knows, the little one in the womb starts calling the shots right away. That little one controls your appetite, your sleeping, your clothing … pretty much your whole life up to and past the day the child is born! So this was with Mary, the mother of our Lord, as she was carrying in her womb the uncontainable God.
Little fetus Jesus was leading His mother even then. He leads her to go and visit her relatives Elizabeth and Zechariah. Up to the hill country of Judah she goes. She greets Elizabeth and when she does, the baby that Elizabeth is carrying in her womb in her old age leaped for joy! Baby-baptizer prophet John begins to do the Baptist Shuffle for God in the flesh just showed up! It’s always a joyous occasion! “And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (LK 1:41-42).
Elizabeth breaks out in praise of her cousin Mary but also for fetus Jesus. Mary was so elated by Elizabeth’s words that she nearly started an underwear company. She was going to call it “Fruit of the womb!” But bearing the world’s Messiah got in the way of her fashionista dream! Mary truly was blessed to be the mother of God. By faith she agreed to the angels words to her: “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (LK 1:28-33).
It’s a very strange occurrence, this becoming the Mother of God business. Young girl, betrothed - but not married - to a Jewish carpenter in Nazareth gets word from a celestial being that though she is a virgin she will have a baby boy named Jesus, the Son of God. … Nobody would really call this experience run-of-the-mill normal! But through it all, we have Mary’s response of faith “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” She could have said ‘No! I don’t want to be part of the salvation of the world! Take your halo and your angel wings and flutter away to someone else!’ But she doesn’t! She believes the Angel Gabriel’s words. She becomes the mother of the only begotten Son of the Heavenly Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. She becomes the blessed Theotokos as they say in Greek, the God-bearer. She is the reverse of Eve who in the garden of Eden listened to the voice of a fallen angel and brought forth death. Mary, through listening to the voice of the Angel Gabriel, brings forth life and immortality!
Mary breaks forth into song, what we now call the “magnificat.” We notice Mary’s extreme humility. Elizabeth praises her but Mary simply passes the praise on to God. It’s not the “Mary show.” It’s not all about her and her own ego. She’s not wearing the “Ich Chef” shirt! Instead, she knows that the baby in her womb is the Boss! She’s much like the communion plate. She holds the precious body of Christ our Lord. We don’t make as big a deal of plate as we do the bread that is on it. And Mary makes this abundantly clear: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name! And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation” (LK 1:46-50)
Mary magnifies the Boss. All generations certainly call her blessed but it’s because of the amazing thing God has done for Mary – and us. God became man. Divinity is incarnate in human flesh. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles! Emmanuel, God is with us. This is the coolest thing ever! The prophecy of old, that God would send a Messiah, has come to fruition! We now call this Christmas and celebrate it with … consumerism, eggnog and stress! But lest we forget what the whole things is really all about, Mary reminds us.
It’s all about the love! God’s incredibly enormous love for His sinful fallen people who listened to their first mother Eve all to their peril. But instead of simply letting humanity go and drift off into death and oblivion, He sends a Saviour, Jesus, who will save His people from their sins. This is the true definition of love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life!” (JN 3:16). This is the point of Christmas dear friends. This is the purpose of the Incarnation. This is why the final candle on our Advent wreath is glowing brightly today. The Hope that God gives us in Christ fills us with heavenly Peace which makes us Joyful all because God Loves us! That’s the whole season of Advent all wrapped up in a neat little package!
In five more sleeps, Christmas will be here. The hope, the peace, the joy and the love of our Christian faith will once again remind us that God is still Emmanuel. He is with us in these great times of celebration, He is with us during the most trying times this fallen world can muster. He is with us in His gift of Holy Baptism that washes our sins away and makes us His children. He is with us as we gather around His table to partake of His true body and blood in, with and under bread and wine. He is with us when we remember and think of Mary, the bearer of God who gives birth to the child Who gives us eternal life!
This message of God’s love is truly what it’s all about. Our God did not wait for us to come to Him. Instead, He has come to us. His presence with us now and all of our days comforts us and fills us with great joy. The Saviour has come to forgive our sins and give us life. He is our God and we are His people. Our hope, peace, joy and above all love are complete in Jesus our Messiah. Thanks be to God Who has come, is with us now and will come again. Amen! Come Lord Jesus!