THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT – DEC. 20, 2015
TEXT: LUKE 1:39-56; PHIL. 4:4-7; DEUT. 18:15-19
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Moved by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth greets Mary as the mother of the Messiah – as the mother of God – And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The baby boy in Elizabeth’s womb gave his own acknowledgement of the Lord’s presence – when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.


Did you note that Elizabeth twice calls Mary blessed! This is not from her imagination or from wishful thinking. When she exclaimed of MaryBlessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” we read it is because Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. When she exclaimed of Mary blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord,” it is for this same reason - Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s presence and the Spirit’s action through God’s Word caused these “blessed” wonders!

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT – DEC. 20, 2015
TEXT: LUKE 1:39-56; PHIL. 4:4-7; DEUT. 18:15-19
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Moved by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth greets Mary as the mother of the Messiah – as the mother of God – And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The baby boy in Elizabeth’s womb gave his own acknowledgement of the Lord’s presence – when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.


Did you note that Elizabeth twice calls Mary blessed! This is not from her imagination or from wishful thinking. When she exclaimed of MaryBlessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” we read it is because Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. When she exclaimed of Mary blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord,” it is for this same reason - Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s presence and the Spirit’s action through God’s Word caused these “blessed” wonders!


These two “blessed(s)” show that God gave Mary two gifts – the first is the miracle of the ages for all people – God the Son in her womb. When Mary earlier had asked how she, a virgin, could bear a son the angel answered her – The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).


The 2nd gift God gave to Mary – no less the work of the Holy Spirit – is faith in her heart – blessed is she who believed…”. In response to what the angel had earlier spoken to her about bearing a son without the participation of a man – Mary had responded – “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”


What amazing intelligence and reasoning ability this young woman must have had? What a strong and privileged place of physical wealth and security she must have had – powering up her belief in some higher power to do great things. Or conversely, what super-human humility she must have had to merit this wonder. Wrong, wrong, wrong! As Mary intoned – “for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant…” she is not boasting in personal humility but acknowledging her low estate – her nothingness – her lack of importance in the world’s view of life (Acts 8:33; Phil 3:21; James 1:10).


The second “blessed” that the Holy Spirit causes Elizabeth to speak – “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord,” points not to Mary’s reason or strength but to the Holy Spirit. It signals the profound truth Dr. Luther taught about faith from Scripture. I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.


God is the giver of all blessedness – it is fullness of life from Him! In the New Testament blessedness refers overwhelmingly to the joyous wonders given with salvation in the Kingdom of God. Blessedness is directly linked to the Gospel – to the remission of sins – to righteousness before God as a free gift – to readiness for Christ’s return – to eternal life (Luke 12:37; Rom. 4:6-9; Gal. 4:15; Rev. 14;13; 16:15: 19:9; 22:14).


The 2nd “blessed” that the Holy Spirit caused Elizabeth to speak of the pregnant Virgin Mary is no secondary matter. Hear Jesus’ own judgment regarding faith in God’s promises to us. As He once cast out demons and taught of Satan’s activity a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”  But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27, 28) – that is who guard it as precious and treasure it.

Blessed is Mary for believing that a new day has come by God’s gracious gift – through her womb and also to her heart. In faith she receives the promises of God concerning the fruit of her womb. The words from Mary’s lips acknowledge the faith in her heart - that God is acting also to save her through this miraculous birth. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble (low) estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;  Indeed aged Elizabeth of that generation called her doubly “blessed” – first for the fruit of her womb – second for the gift of faith in God’s promise that He gave birth to in her heart.


Beloved of God, here is reason to magnify God - not your problems – not your plans – not your prideful self. The miracle of the ages has occurred. God the Son was knit together in the Virgin’s womb – in our flesh and blood – to taste death for us and defeat it for us. She is pregnant with Yahweh! Immanuel – God with us! From the virgin soil of Eden the Absolute Giver gave the first man life. Now in the virgin womb of Mary, the Absolute Giver does a new thing – knitting together there the God/Man. We will soon celebrate the wonder of His birth and the children will help us anticipate that with their program today.

He was born so that you might be lifted from your low estate – your nothingness. He came to lift you up to His presence for eternity. You can approach Him in weakness – as a dying sinner – as grass that withers – as one who struggles each day to drown your old sinful nature! Indeed the only way He can be approached is in weakness in which His strength is made perfect and for which His grace is sufficient.

 

Mary’s song is a beautiful confession of what God has done to be her Savior and the Savior of the world. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…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.


God grant us to fear Him in our generation and to teach the next also to fear and love and trust in Him above all things. He who is mighty has done great things for you and holy is His name. He has baptized you into His name – covering you with Himself – washing away your sin raining down righteousness on you. Blessed are you!


The rich He sends empty away but fills the hungry with good things. He invites you to come hungry and magnify His name at His table today – eating and drinking of the heavenly and forgiving food He serves. He is present to lift the sins which weigh you down by His grace and mercy. Blessed are you!


Perhaps Mary’s journey can help us focus with joy on the journey that brings all blessedness. In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country to a town in Judah. There came a day when He who was carried in her womb on this day also arose and went into the hill country in Judah. That Judean town was Jerusalem and Jesus set His face toward it with resolute determination (Luke 9:51). When He entered the city the word “Blessed” fell on His ears in Abundance.Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”


But the purpose of His birth and of that journey is to give you His blessedness! On a very specific hill in the hill country the heavens showered down righteousness as His blood was poured out. In that same country, the earth opened up (a garden tomb) that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit. Oh how both have sprouted – even to this generation to bless you!


The risen Christ put death’s dark shadow to flight! Immanuel gave victory over the grave to mortals! The risen and ascended and interceding Christ continues to come to save you from Satan’s tyranny. He will come again on the last day to close the path to all misery! Blessed are you in believing that there will be a fulfillment of all that is spoken to you from the Lord! In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a