S-1198 7/18/10 8SAP/3A Hymns: (O) #8; S#15; (C)#50
Texts: O.T. Genesis 18:1-10, Colossians 1:21-29; Luke 10:38=42
Theme: “A Miraculous Birth” (Genesis 18:10)
Question: Have you experienced a miracle lately?
Armour, SD SOLI DEO GLORIA
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleuia. The text for our meditation is the Old Testament lesson: “The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him” (Genesis 18:10)
People of God, CHOSEN and BELOVED, Nancy and Jim were high school sweethearts. (Names have been changed to protect the parties).They loved each other deeply and couldn’t wait for the day to be united in marriage before the throne of Grace as husband and wife. Shortly after high school Jim asked Nancy to marry him and with great delight she said “Absolutely!” They wanted a family—a big family. They decided to wait till after college to have children. After college they both got good jobs and asked God to bless them with children.
Time passed but no children came. Years went by and still no baby. Nancy was often found crying because she wanted to hold a baby in her arms and nurse him on her breast but no baby. Time passed, prayers sent heaven-ward; tears shed and still no baby. Thousands of dollars were spent as they visited one doctor after another, but each doctor they visited said, “I am sorry, you can’t conceive and have a child!” They were heartbroken, they wanted a family—a big family, but they just couldn’t have a child. They decided to adopt a child.
They began the adoption process, and the people at the agency told them it will take a long time for the adoption to go through and will be costly. They understood that and were willing to wait. As they were waiting for the day to receive word about the future baby, Nancy had gotten terribly sick and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors came to see her one after the other announced the good news—“Nancy, you are with Child!” Nancy and Jim hugged each other and said, “This is a miraculous baby considering we were not supposed to conceive.” Everyone that came to visit Nancy at the hospital said, “This is a miraculous baby.” The day did come when Nancy held their baby in her arms and breast fed him.
Today, as you listen to the Word of God, you see another miraculous birth takes place to aged Abraham and not as old Sarah. The hour glass had been emptied of the sand of child bearing. Abraham is now 100 years old, Sarah is 90. Sarah wished that God would have kept His promise that she would have a son.
I suppose, though Scripture doesn’t say that, I would venture to say, Sarah shed many tears. I am sure she sent heaven-ward plenty of prayers asking God for a child. But NO baby. And one day as father Abraham was sitting beneath the Oak of Mamre, he notices 3 visitors coming. It is ironic that Abraham doesn’t stay still waiting for them to arrive, but he runs towards them. And invite them to come to his tent.
There is uniqueness in these 3 visitors. If you paid attention to the reading at one time Abraham addresses them as three and at other time as one. Who are these visitors? Why are they here? What do they want? They are Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The pre-Incarnate Christ is present to announce the good news. A year from now your wife Sarah will hold in her arms and on her lap a son.
Any woman who is 90 and some of you are very close; some of you are there already and you are going to do what? YOU ARE GOING TO LAUGH, aren’t you? 90 years old! This message is too good to be true! The barren elderly womb of Sarah is going to open? After all the grains of sand had fallen from the hourglass of reproductive time? It would take a miracle for this to happen. That is why Sarah laughed. That is precisely what the visitor’s informed father Abraham. Please listen again how the Pre-Incarnate Christ announced the good news: “The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him” (Genesis 18:10)
You know the story well don’t you? We are told that Sarah laughed. Now if someone came to me and told my wife who is 90 years old is going to have a baby, what do you think I am going to do? Tell me, honestly! I am going to laugh. And if someone came to you and said, you are going to have a child and you are going to say “What are you sniffing?” Correct? It is a miraculous baby.
What is his name? Yitzhak (Hebrew) Laughter. She laughs because at the old age of 90 that womb, which was barren and dead, is now coming alive with the birth of a son. And Sarah will nurse that child and hold him on her arms and fill her heart and tent with much joy and laughter; happiness will be given to old Abraham too. PAUSE.
You see this miraculous birth is so important because it would bring about another miracle. You remember that this miraculous child would be the father of another child. In my home town of Nazareth another miracle took place. An angel came to a virgin. You talk about laughter. You folks envision this. You know biology and how the body works. Will not go through the details or draw you a map. But you know exactly that if you have not been with a man, you will not conceive. And here is a young virgin, the angel announces to her saying, “Don’t be afraid! Guess what! You are going to have a baby!”
What do you expect to do (at the worship service a guest by the name of Candy did just that) she laughed. We would too, wouldn’t we? You don’t hear of those things happening. That is a miracle indeed. This miracle occurs because of the first miracle that took place in the life of father Abraham and mother Sarah as the Pre-Incarnate Christ speaks of His own birth to the aged couple—Princes of mothers and the Prince of fathers.
A miraculous birth to fulfill the promises of God that He would come to take away the burden of all of mankind’s sins away from them. Now I ask you, the question I asked at the beginning of the Divine Worship Service: “Have you witnessed a miracle lately?” Some of you would say, “Not sure!” Let’s begin with these thoughts: The pastor stands before you, you confess your sins and what does he do? He absolves you of your sins-a miracle at work not by his authority, but the authority of the One who placed him in that office. A miraculous child was born. You may not think that you witness a miracle every day. But you do.
Every single day you see the sun rising. It is a miracles thing. Isn’t? It doesn’t just happen. But God works it out. You and I are the miraculous child. “Pastor, what do you mean?” It isn’t the fact that your mom and dad conceived a child, but rather that we become the children of God. Simple water, a word spoken—the pastor says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and a miracle takes place. Even though you don’t see anything on the outside, it is at work on the inside through the majestic waters of Baptism. You and I are the miraculous children of God to bring about the good news. And what good news we have? PAUSE.
How often… how often are we like father Abraham and mother Sarah who desire to help God carry out His plans? Isn’t true? Sometimes we think God doesn’t know what He is doing. Sometimes we place God on a shelf and make Him so big but no bigger; we make Him so tall, and no taller; we make Him so strong and no stronger and we limit what He can and can’t do. And when He doesn’t carry out what we ask, we elevate ourselves to be above Him and think that we can do it better.
You know the Scriptures well. Father Abraham received the promise that he was going to have a child. 25 years passed and no baby. Sarah wants a baby so bad that she can’t wait. And what does she do? She messes with God’s plan by telling her husband to go and sleep with Hagar and have a son with her. Now, men, if your wife came to you and gave you permission to sleep with another woman, what would you do? You ask, “Did you loose your marbles!” But father Abraham doesn’t do that. Abraham says, “I have a license to sleep with another woman. And from there on trouble is a constant companion in his tent.
You know the events that play out real well. The two sons of Abraham, Yitzhak and Ishmael and it has been a mess ever since. I claim my lineage to father Ishmael—the father of all the Arabs. And on the other hand Yitzhak is the father of all the Jews and ever since that day, they have been fighting and still are. Almost every day you hear on the news that the Palestinians are throwing rocks at the Jews and the Jews are shooting at the Arabs.
All of this because Father Abraham and mother Sarah messed up with God’s plans. When you do that, you mess up a lot more than if you trusted in His will for your life. PAUSE.
BUT here comes the Good News: God sent the One and only Son—the miraculous birth through the Virgin Marry to bring about reconciliation as the Apostle Paul stated in our Epistle lesson this morning (Colossians 1:21-29). Why is that important? Because on our own we can’t stand in the presence of our Holy God; on our own we can’t without the waters of Baptism be the children of God; on our own we would not seek the thing that is needful. As the Savior spoke about in the Gospel lesson (Luke 10:38-42). Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, she wants to observe, hear and learn more about Him and His love for humanity. Jesus praises her for her devotions and learning the value she spends with Him.
A miraculous birth? YOU BET!!! Every day we see these miracles. From Yitzhak, to Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew), to you and me. But there is another miracle that you should know about. God for Christ’s sake loves you in spite of who you are. That God would come to earth, empty Himself from all of His glory, become human, live among us and goes to the cross to die for our sins. PAUSE.
When I was Houston I went to the most expensive Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod (Zion Lutheran Church). Are you folks sitting down? Please put your seat belts on. The Church cost $15 Millions. It is the most beautifully decorated that I have ever seen. It is a replica of the Dresden church in Germany. As you enter it, there is a huge statue of Luther. But that is not as important as when you enter the Sanctuary. The ceiling is pretty high about 100 feet. Right above the pulpit suspended in mid air (half way up) is a cross with a statue of Jesus on it. What is ironic about that cross is the shape of the cross beam? Normally, we see (as in our church) the cross is straight like a T. But not this cross, this one hangs down on both sides. My friend and guide James Kreigel informed me the artist wanted to capture the weight of the sin of all humanity on the arms of Jesus that it bent the cross beam down (demonstrate).
What a miracle! Pause. What a miracle indeed! Two weeks ago I preached a sermon titled, “What a picture!” In my opening statement I said: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That cross says more than a thousand words, it says: “I love you! I have picked you up! I have taken your sins away and I have given you a new birth—to be my son and daughter.” You talk about a miracle. You are that miracle. Not only is Yitzhak is the miraculous child, not only is Yeshua is the miraculous child born through Mary; but you and I are the miraculous child born through the waters of Baptism, fed at the table of the Lord, forgiven at the cross of Calvary, through the shed blood of the Lamb of God.
What a miraculous birth that took place in our hearts. This is after all, the Good News. We read of it in the Gradual which stated: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news, who publish peace and bring goods news of salvation” (Isaiah 52:7). You are that miraculous child, born into the family of God.
By the Spirit’s power I exhort you to go out into the world and share the good news of what Jesus has done for you—making you part of His family of faith. That is all I have for you today, God’s good news. May it be a blessing as you rejoice and give thanks to what God has done in your life as well as mine. Amen and Amen.
Now the peace…