Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 18, 2017
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Gospel lesson according to St. Luke for this morning is about the Virgin Mary.
Lutherans don't talk about Mary much. We don't pray to her, worship her, even really know how to talk about her. The Virgin Mary seems too Roman; and we are not Roman. True, but we are part of the one, holy, apostolic, catholic/universal/Christian church. You could say we are Lutheran Catholic rather than Roman Catholic.
So what about the Virgin Mary that we should give thanks to God for her?
Mary has no special claim of her own. Mary is a young woman engaged to Joseph.
So why remember and give thanks to God for Mary?
The Virgin Mary is a sinner like you.
In the eyes of the people around her, she is pregnant out of wedlock. That is a sin, unholy, and against God's clear Word – You Shall Not Commit Adultery. Except, the Virgin Mary did not commit adultery and yet she knows the weight of sexual shame. If you know this shame, Virgin Mary understands that pain.
And yet, the Holy Spirit conceived in Virgin Mary's womb a Child who is Christ the Lord. And this conception is no sin but a miracle.
Virgin Mary is bearing the Child promised in our Old Testament lesson. It is written, “the LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to Him you shall listen...I will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”
Virgin Mary is the virgin prophesied in Isaiah where it is written, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (which means God with us).
Virgin Mary's own soul is pierced through by this Child while she stood at the foot of the cross of her dying Son, just as Simeon prophesied. If you have lost a child, Mary understands that pain.
Soon after Christ's resurrection, Virgin Mary isn't heard from anymore.
So what about the Virgin Mary?
Mary sings a song (Mary's Song, the Magnificat) that says it all. It is written, “For the LORD has looked on the humble estate of His servant.”
The Virgin Mary sings because of what the LORD has done for her.
For all of Mary's un-importance, the LORD notices her. The Lord looks upon her in the low position of her sinful nature. The LORD extends His grace and mercy upon Mary even though she is not anyone important or in anyway deserving. But the LORD gives Lowly Mary a Savior.
Mary bears the promised Son of God who will bear her public shame, her low estate, her sin and sinful nature.
What is it about Lowly Mary that you should remember her?
Because your sin has brought you low. Maybe your sexual sins have made you unclean. Maybe your parent, spouse, or child has died leaving you all alone. Maybe you are rightly convinced that one day you too will die and you can not stop it nor do you deserve anyone to help you stop it.
This is what you have in common with Mary the mother of Jesus. Like Mary, you deserve nothing but temporal and eternal punishment but Jesus has mercy on you by taking your sin upon Himself and therefore your taking your punishment upon Himself as well. Like Mary, you deserve no good gift but Jesus gives you His Life in exchange for your death.
This is what you have in common with Mary the mother of Jesus. Like Mary, you know the humiliation of your sin before a holy God and yet, Jesus also knows the humiliation of your sin before His Father. Nailed without clothing to the cross (a sexual humiliation) and abandoned by His disciples (a public humiliation).
And like Mary, the LORD upon the humble estate of you His servant. He extends His grace and mercy to you by a promise. The promise connected to water at His Holy Baptism for you in your lowly estate. The promise connected to bread and wine at His Holy Supper for you in your lowly estate.
You don't pray to Mary, or worship Mary but like Mary you receive the same gift that she did. A Savior who even this night forgives you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.