S-1155 12/20/09 4SIA/3C (O) Many Advent/Christmas Hymns
Texts: Micah 5:2-5; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
Theme: “Two Women and One Faithful God” (Luke 1:39-42)
Question: “How faithful Are You?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Fourth Sunday in Advent is from the Gospel Lesson: “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. 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!’”
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, beloved of Hope, two women.... pregnant! One very old, beyond the age of bearing a child, the other, very young and never having known a man; yet chosen by God. Miracles of monumental proportion - and they’re in the same condition, at the same time, in the same county, but in two different geographical locations—one in the north and the other in the south. Two women, their hearts are filled with fear. The younger is afraid of being a suspect for being pregnant out of wedlock and what her future husband would day; and the older is afraid and shameful and hides for 5 months. Oh, and their boys meet too! One is to be a prophet, while the other is The Prophet, The Priest, and the King! He is to be the King of Peace! Amazing!
We must not rush over that most beautiful scene that Luke captures for us—for it is a setting, like a beautiful frame makes the content of the Masterpiece all the sweeter. Two women great with child together; it is so simple, so ordinary. It happens all the time. It is the natural order of things - and yet in that ordinary scene is something so extra-ordinary that it takes God’s faithfulness to bring it about. All human history, with its sin and pain and death is answered in this coming together of two mothers and the fruit of their wombs. Here God’s faithful promises, made from the first day of sin find their fulfillment in this seemingly small and forgotten corner of the world, in what appears to be an ordinary scene of two pregnant women. How like our God! PAUSE.
Mary’s Song, like that of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2 is the song of faith, of seeing what God promises as actual and real, even before it comes to our sight! These women rejoiced because God is so good, not because they were so good. We honor Mary as the very Mother of God (Theotokos in Greek) because she rejoices in God her Savior. Did you catch that? Mary calls Him (the infant child) God her Savior? Indeed, both Hannah and Mary gave the glory to God, who glorified not only them, but you and me and every other child of Adam and Eve!
Elizabeth and Mary, Mary and Hannah, these three and you - what you have in common with these grand women is Christ Jesus and His faithfulness to keep His promises? A promise is only as good as the one who makes the promise, and faith is only as strong as the one in whom the faith is held. From that first bite of the forbidden fruit God was faithfully promising full restoration to Eden, the new heart and the new life. Since everyone was marred and broken, stained with sin to our very core and marrow, it would take the faithfulness of a loving and gracious God to restore what was broken. Mary even says so much when in her Magnificat she says:
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.
Yes, He has worked salvation, and not just for Mary, but now through her womb. Catch that beloved, people of hope. It is so very important that you do: He comes not in clouds and loud claps of thunder. There are no divine megaphones blaring, but a woman’s womb becomes the Holy Sepulcher. Now a sepulcher is normally thought of as a grave - and so it is - Mary’s womb becomes the grave for death - for Life, yes Life, He will emerge from the tomb. But did you know that the secondary dictionary definition of sepulcher is “a place for safekeeping of holy objects.” God kept His Holy Son safe in Mary’s womb - and as Jesus came forth He who is life would destroy death; He who is Light would destroy Darkness; He who is joy would destroy Sadness; and He who is heavenly would destroy Hell and the Devil.
That is the promise that Mary and Elizabeth, that Hannah of old, and you and me of today - we see in the unseen substance of a growing belly the fulfillment of every Divine Promise, namely, our Salvation! Oh, and our Sanctification... that is, our life hidden with God in Christ now. Oh, and the final Word concerning us, that forever and ever, Amen we shall be with Him! And this loving act of redemption and of sanctification is not for some but for all, even as our Epistle says in its closing verse: 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all! (Hebrews 10).
With eyes of faith we now see what these pregnant mothers saw, the full reach of God’s grace. Will there be those who reject the gift? You know the answer. Absolutely YES! Ah, but that does not diminish the gift that He comes as Savior of the whole world. Yes, salvation is for the high and mighty as well as for the lowly. For the lowly is everyone who has been brought to the knowledge of their sins, and brought to the sure knowledge that in the Child in Mary’s womb, and only in Him is their life, peace, joy and forgiveness. That the high and haughty are brought low means that the Gospel is for them also.
Who is beyond Grace? No one! God’s mercy is to bring all low, that at the right time He might lift us up - this He has accomplished as in the humility of His Cross, He lifted the lowly with Him. Yes, sinners, my fellow sinners today, consider the lowly way He came - born of a virgin in lowly little Bethlehem. Consider how lowly He went to heaven - via the Cross, the source of shame! Through His suffering, death and glorious Resurrection He became lower than the lowest in order to redeem us - so that we would know God has no “collateral damage” no forgotten souls. Yes, even though some will reject Him - He became the lowest of the low to redeem all!
This Faithful God and Father, this Faithful Son, yes, this Faithful Holy Spirit has spoken - and their faithful word sustains you, even as it did these dear pregnant mothers. Even so, Amen.
Now the peace of God…
Soli Deo Gloria