nullAdvent 4 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
December 23, 2018
Micah 5:2-5a, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-56

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itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
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The Angel Gabriel visits young Mary in Nazareth and lets her know she is going to have a baby Luke 1:30-33 (ESV) 30 And the angel [says] to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[1]

It is hard to even imagine the overwhelming joy that Mary has at receiving this news.  She must be just bursting to tell others about what has happened.  But I am thinking that the reaction of other people must really be deflating for Mary.  Mary tells this unbelievable good news to Joseph, the man to whom she has been betrothed, and Joseph rejects Mary and seeks to break off their betrothal.  The news is truly unbelievable and Joseph does not believe it.

An angel appears to Joseph and confirms the good news and Joseph then is able to share Mary’s joy and he takes Mary home as his wife but they are not intimate until after Jesus is born.

What is the reaction of others in Nazareth to the news that Mary is pregnant?  I’m thinking that Mary’s great joy at being pregnant with the Son of the Most High is met with bitter scoffing and rejection by others in town.  They all know what “really happened.”  Joseph and Mary could not wait, or worse, Mary was fooling around with some other young man in town.  Shame, shame, shame.  The proud, good people of Nazareth likely look down on poor, pitiful, immoral Mary and her obviously disgraceful behavior.

Mary leaves Nazareth for a while and goes to visit her relative Elizabeth, an old, barren woman who must have endured a lifetime of people looking down at her and shaking their heads and saying, “I wonder what great sin Elizabeth committed that God has punished her by making her barren?  It must have been something truly shameful.”

And so here we find ourselves in our Gospel reading today up in the hill country of Judah with these two women who have been shamed; one old and one young, both bursting with joy as the new lives in their wombs are growing each day getting ready to be born.  At the sound of Mary’s greeting John leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb.  The four of them, Elizabeth, Mary, John and Jesus, are all together with no one around to shame them or try to decrease their joy.  And Mary’s joy overflows into her song; the Magnificat.

In these words from humble Mary from Nazareth we learn that God’s ways are so different from our ways.

The whole focus of the song is on the Lord God; God’s strength and God’s mercy.  Mary’s whole focus is on God and what He has done for Mary and all who follow the Lord.  Mary is blessed because of what God has done for her.

Luke 1:46-50 (ESV) 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.[2]

In this world we are enchanted by people of power and influence; talent and fame, strength and good looks.  We have a magazine dedicated to these people, called People.  We are impressed with money and power and beauty.  We like to peek in at the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  We are told we should aspire to be like them.

In the meantime, the world wants you to judge yourself against people with less money, less power, shabbier clothes, not as good looking.  The world pushes you to be better than others.  To be more admired; more rewarded; more recognized.  The world encourages you to believe that it is important to be proud, mighty and rich, and look down on those who are not.

Mary’s song turns the world’s desires on their head.  God is full of strength and God is full of mercy.  Pay attention here to how God uses His strength and His mercy.

            In this world we are enchanted by people of power and influence; talent and fame, strength and good looks.  We have a magazine dedicated to these people, called People.  We are impressed with money and power and beauty.  We like to peek in at the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  We are told we should aspire to be like them.

Luke 1:51-53 (ESV) 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.[3]

God uses his strength against the proud, mighty and rich.  At the same time God mercifully exalts the humble and the hungry.

Mary, this humble, young, virgin girl from the small town of Nazareth has been blessed to be the Mother of God.  Mary carries Jesus in her womb.  God has exalted her in her humble estate.

God has exalted you in your humble estate.  God did not wait for you to make something of yourself before He gave you the gift of Jesus’ holiness, perfection and eternal life.  For many of you God lifted you up while you were still a small baby unable to do anything for yourself.  In your utter helplessness and humility God marked you in baptism as His own and bestowed on you the Kingdom of Heaven.  God has exalted you and filled you with good things.

In this success-driven world it is hard to remember that your value does not come from who you are.  Your value does not come from anything you have done.  Your value comes from what Christ Jesus has done for you.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”

There is great temptation to judge others and their situations.  If a young, unmarried woman comes to church pregnant it is tempting to start climbing up on that high horse to look down, but Christians do not belong up there looking down on anyone.  Christians are called to love and support; to bring Jesus’ Good News of forgiveness to a world that is hurting and in need of forgiveness and mercy.  Jesus is the source of great joy as He reaches into this sin-sick world and lifts you up and declares you to be right with God.  This baby growing in Mary’s womb is the sinless Lamb of God being readied for the once and forever sacrifice for sin.  The promise that God made to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus, and you, the adopted children of Abraham have God’s promise given you in Christ.  Mary is blessed by God and carries the Savior in her womb.  In baptism Jesus blesses you and lifts you up and marks you as His own.  As a child of God He fills you and shows you mercy.  In Holy Communion you are fed with the Body and Blood of this same Jesus.  You have been given forgiveness and eternal life.  In Christ you can declare with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord and My spirit rejoices in God, my savior.”  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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