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He Who Is Mighty

December 22, 2018

Verse: Luke 1:39–1:45

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
December 23, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Advent 4
He Who Is Mighty

Now in those days Mary set out with haste to the hill country, to a city in Judah where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the child leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; and exclaimed with a loud voice, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And, how is it that that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold! As soon as your greeting entered my ears the child in my womb leapt with joy. And blessed is she who believes that the things spoken to her would be fulfilled." (Luke 1:39-45)

Today, O Advent Worshipers, the church is Elizabeth who says of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Today the Virgin Church, who carries the body of Christ in her womb, blesses the Mother of God and proclaims with her, “For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Today, on this most solemn 4th Sunday of the Advent season, Lutherans are given the rare opportunity to make a proper balance of things – given the chance to renew the faith of the Reformation Fathers.

On the one hand our Fathers in the Faith strenuously objected to addressing prayers to the Blessed Virgin. They reaffirmed the seamless teaching of Sacred Scripture that had been lost for centuries; that God’s people are to offer all prayers, for every need, to the Heavenly Father alone in the name of, and by the merits of, the Virgin’s Son.

But they did not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Instead, following in the footsteps of St. Elizabeth heard in today’s gospel, they continued to proclaim, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

They continued to honor the Mother of God, to revere her and to call her Blessed but they did not forget why. Because in Mary’s own words, “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

And that is what we are here to praise God for today, “For he who is mighty has done great things for me.”

But what are those great things?

In today’s Psalm (80) King David says it like this, “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” It is a prayer that God answered when Jesus “was made man”! He is the Savior. He is the one who delivers us from the shadow of our sins, their shame, their judgment, and their just rewards. He is the Beautiful Savior and irresistible face of God that shines upon us and makes us radiant in turn!

What are those great things?

In today’s Old Testament lesson the Prophet Micah says it like this: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

Like King David before him the Prophet speaks God’s promise to the world. Namely that from the “Little Town of Bethlehem,” which was just barely a dot on the map, the Savior of all things visible and invisible, would be born! It is this Babe of Bethlehem, this Ancient of Days, whose incarnation we will soon celebrate with unspeakable wonder and delight.

What are those great things that the Mighty One has done for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and for us?

In today’s most outstanding Epistle lesson we are made privy to the Divine Conversation! In it the Son says to the Father, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me.” And, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.”

And it is that fully human body: carried in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, put to death on the cross, raised on the third day, and given to us as true food and drink in Holy Communion that sanctifies and makes us whole! That renders us spotless and without blemish. That makes us fit for God, worthy of God and beloved children of the “Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Though God himself established the Old Testament sacrificial system, and though animals in Christian theology are without sin, their blood is unable to heal the sin-sick soul.

But the blood of Jesus, God’s unblemished Lamb, can and does and so come to the altar today! Bring your sins, your sorrows and every need, and you will be made alive again. You will be at peace – however much the wars of sin, death and Satan rage about you, and toss you this way and that! Here at the Lord’s altar Jesus prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies, and Christens your head with the oil of gladness.

What great things has the Mighty One done for St. Elizabeth, for Holy Mary Mother of God, and for all who believe on the Son of God in the world?

Consider the events we read in today’s gospel!

Immediately following the Visitation of Gabriel Mary, with great haste, proceeds to make the 90 mile journey from Nazareth to a town in Judah to visit her cousin Elizabeth who, well beyond childbearing age, has also miraculously conceived a child.

“What child is this”? It is John the Baptist, the Prophet of the Most High God. The voice in the wilderness that introduced the world to its Savior who, upon hearing the greeting of the Mother of God, while still in the Elizabeth’s womb, was quickened and leapt for joy! Joy to the world, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her king!

How was this possible? Because the Blessed Virgin, who carried God in her womb, was the Temple of the Living God! And where God is there is untold power. Where God is there is relief from sin and sorrow so that only Good remains. Where God is there is the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore!

You have come to such a place today! To the Temple of the Living God. To the Virgin Church who carries the Savior in her womb, even as she is carried by him! And he whom she carries she also imparts, without money and without cost, to all who are weighed down by sin!

We are those people. And so it is for us men and for our Salvation that Jesus answers today’s Collect, stirs up his power, and deigns to be born among us here and now in Divine Liturgy to save us!

And how could it be otherwise?

For he who is mighty has done great things for us, and Holy is his Name.

Amen!