Sermon for the Annunciation of Our Lord, AD 2021

Luke 1:26-38

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This creation of God in the very beginning, God’s absolute creation from nothing, was formless, empty, and dark. It was a formless mass uninhabitable by anything – plant, animal, angel or man. The human mind cannot comprehend the first undifferentiated creation, without distinction of matter or energy. Yet God was there, and the Spirit of God hovered over this undifferentiated mass, this empty deep. And God said “Let there be light” and there was light. By the Word of God the very glory of the Spirit of God shined light into creation. This light was the first thing created that was good, and God divided the light and darkness thereby creating the day and night and time. This was the first day.
           
And then on the second day God created the firmament in the heavens to separate the waters from the waters, to give form to what was formless. So the firmament was created to divide the waters, and that firmament was called Heaven. So by the firmament called heaven, the sky, God separated heaven, the dwelling place of God and His angels, from the earth, the dwelling place of man. God’s dwelling is unreachable by any spaceship or vehicle that man can contrive. It was attributed to Yuri Gargarin, the first cosmonaut, but more likely Khrushchev who said that God was not found in space. Yet the Bible speaks clearly that even a Vostok 3KA vehicle will not bring us closer to God or make a landing upon the heavenly sea of glass to gaze upon God’s throne.
           
On the third and following days God formed the earth, filled it with plants, animals, and man and created the lesser and greater light to govern it. All this was good, man being very good. The firmament, though created, was not called good. Heaven and earth were created separate. Even Adam and Eve in the garden, though in perfect communion with God, could not physically reach heaven. Earth was not created as simply another heaven but was set to grow into heaven. Yet Adam’s sin broke that completely. No longer would the earth become heaven-like, but it would decay. Time’s arrow would push the world further from the good creation it had started from.
           
Since Adam and Eve sinned in hoping to be like God, man has been trying everything to get across the firmament on his own. Yet every tower of Babel is crushed, every societal program falls apart and nothing science can do can get us closer to God.
           
It was into this situation that God crossed the firmament and broke in. He promised the seed of the woman, the offspring of Abraham, and the one who would sit on the throne of David. Creation decayed, empires rose and fell, millennia passed, until finally the proper time had come. The time had come for the angel Gabriel to visit the virgin Mary, betrothed to Joseph of the royal house of David. He would announce to her that she had found favor with God and would conceive and bear a son.
           
Just as no physicist can create from nothing, no biologist or fertility expert can ever make a virgin conceive. This act of creation God would do once, here, in the backwater town of Nazareth in Galilee. It’s no wonder that Mary would reply “how will this be?” The Spirit of God would overshadow her just as it hovered over the waters on the day of creation. From an empty womb and formless flesh would be formed a single-celled zygote who is both God and man. This one who would go through all the stages of fetal development would be called Jesus – the salvation of the Lord. This Jesus is the light who would shine in the darkness, first in Galilee, a place of spiritual darkness and idolatry, and through His gospel to the entire earth which He created.
           
This is the gospel we preach – that the Son of God took on human flesh in the womb of the virgin and became man, and that this man died and rose. The most important event in human history which we observe next week and preach every week is also God’s means of new creation. Through this gospel we preach the Father brings His Holy Spirit to man who is formless, void, and dark and creates new life in the image of His Son. Being transformed into His Son’s image, we are able to follow Him as the firstborn of the new creation.
           
Only through Christ has this world been redeemed from corruption. It is being birthed as a new creation. It groans in birth pains as the consummation of all things approaches. On that Last Day, our ascended Lord will descend with not one angel named Gabriel, but all His mighty angels. The heavens will open and the firmament will finally crack wide open, permanently. As heaven comes to earth, earth will be remade as heaven. The Son of God who took on flesh in the virgin’s womb will openly reign on David’s throne as a king forever.
           
We are the emissaries of this king, preaching this coming to all who hear. For as the kingdom comes now, there are thin places in the firmament, holes where heaven comes to earth. This is what we bring to God’s people in the Word and Sacrament. New creation. Let us like the most blessed virgin submit to the angel’s word, and say we are but slaves of the Lord. Let it be to me also according to your Word. Amen.

This sermon was preached for the Matins service for Northern Illinois Confessional Lutherans.

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