Sermon for the Feast of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, AD 2021

Luke 1:39-55

As Jesus taught, 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). This, from the words of Christ in Luke, is why we remember St. Mary today. It would be truly wonderful to be the one who bore and nursed Jesus, the Son of God who became man. Mary is truly blessed among all women for this honor. Yet we are not pointed to look at Mary for herself. We see Mary as an example of faith, one who heard the Word of God and kept it.

Mary lived in a time of anticipation – the anticipation of the coming of the Christ, the anointed king who would save His people. She and a few others trusted He would come, but faith was generally low. Look at the world of Mary’s time. God rescued His people from Egypt ages ago. There hadn’t been a prophet in over 400 years. The promise to Jacob’s descendants, the people of Israel, that they would bless the world seemed unlikely. There was no Israel, just a bunch of descendants of the kingdom of Judah who now lived in a backwater Roman province. The promise of a king was distant since there was no king in the line of David. The royal line had fallen into obscurity. People still had drams about how the Christ would come, but no one could have predicted what happened.

That is a problem we often have with faith. It is hard to believe when God’s Word does not match with your predictions, or when you don’t know how God will work. You lie there in bed at night and think over all the facts of our situation and don’t know how you will get out of it. You are overwhelmed by the changes and chances of life, and though you know God is there, you can’t see him doing anything for you. Since you can’t find a way out, you figure God can’t either. After all, miracles don’t happen anymore, right?

Mary lived in a time when miracles didn’t seem to happen anymore. Then an angel came to her with a miracle. A new miracle that had never occurred in human history and would never occur again. A virgin would conceive. God decided to come into the world in a way which is not just improbable, but definitionally impossible. God had worked many times before to make a barren woman conceive. He even made a ninety-year-old woman conceive. Modern technology can even overcome some barrenness, but never will make a virgin conceive. Yet Mary believed. Against logic, against science, against history, Mary believed she would conceive as a virgin and bear the Son of God.

As Mary receives God’s Word in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, she then goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. By the mere presence of Jesus in the womb, Elizabeth too is filled with the Holy Spirit and the baby John the Baptist leaps in her womb. Already before Jesus is born His presence creates faith. Elizabeth recognizes Mary as pregnant with her Lord.
Here it would be good to stop and recognize what this means concerning children in the womb. Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb, and not yet born, is recognized as Lord. Jesus in his mission to save us became man in every way that we are including developing from zygote to fetus to birth. John the Baptist too, in Elizabeth’s womb, leaps in recognition of Jesus. How could anyone say a child in the womb is not a person? Beyond any other moral argument against abortion, of which there are many, we have this – when Jesus was in the womb, He was fully Jesus. To deny that the child of the womb is human and therefore can be killed is to deny the very incarnation of Jesus in the womb as well.

Yet such injustice exists widely in our nation, completely legally protected, favored by most doctors and politicians who should be working to save lives and protect children. Such is the way of the world. Greed is protected by law as every man is allowed to swindle from another, though the richer you are the easier it is to get by. Schools are encouraged to teach every type of sexual expression is fine. More and more sons are being taken from their parents and turned into daughters (or even worse, their parents are complicit). For the person of faith, the solid ground seems to be shrinking more and more. Where is our deliverer? Who will support me in this life? Who will help make sure my kids don’t fall away?

Too often we put our faith in schemes as the world works. We believe a politician will finally bring us back to how things used to be, or he will finally bring civility to life. Or if we make certain financial choices we will be never suffer. If we are just clever enough, we can keep ahead. This is the pride of our age. Wisdom is certainly fine if it comes from God. God does guide us in His word to make good choices. Yet we are not saved by the wisdom of our choices. And Mary, being a mere young Jewish woman in the mighty Roman empire, was not going to move mountains on her own. Mary’s faith is especially an example for us who don’t feel especially connected or rich or clever.

And still…she is blessed. She breaks out into her song, the Magnificat – “he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. 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.” Her blessing was not in the state of the world or her status or her cleverness, but in knowing that He Who is Mighty has done great things for her. He Who is Mighty has done such great things for you as well - When the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

God sent His Son to be born of woman not just to bless her, but to bless all of us who are under the law. More than a virgin can never conceive, you in your sin cannot know or please God. Your trust and love rest in other things, and you cannot see your way unless someone helps you. You were a slave to the devil, your flesh, and the things of this world. Yet blessed are you! The Son of God was born of the virgin Mary, fully man as you are, and fulfilled God’s law perfectly from womb to tomb. In His death He paid for your sins, and in His resurrection He defeated death. Now you are a son of God and heir through baptism. You have left the slavery of sin and are brought into God’s family. There is no need to fear the world, for Christ has reconciled you with God, and He is in control. You do not need to be a slave to whatever position you are in anymore.

The spiritual victory Jesus has achieved, that through His work you have received the Holy Spirit, is more difficult than any problem in your life. Bringing you out of death and spiritual darkness was much harder than the temporary troubles which face you now. Then why doubt and worry? As Mary says, He has shown strength with His arm. Old Testament Israel was constantly pointed to God’s faithfulness in delivering them from Egypt when they doubted. Now you are constantly pointed to the cross, God’s faithfulness in saving you from all other powers. The proud are scattered by God. The humble are exalted and the mighty are brought low. The hungry are filled and the rich are not. God came to us by an impossible conception to a nation that didn’t exist to a kingship that didn’t exist. He made it exist by His almighty power. As His Child, He will surely do it for you.

He has sent the Spirit of His Son into your heart which cries, Abba, Father! This is the cry of prayer. This is the cry of Our Father, who art in heaven. God is inviting you as a Father to bring your cares to Him. He is inviting you to bring your sins to Him. He wants to forgive. He wants to provide. No matter if you have fallen into the culture’s sins, or sinned by thinking you could do it on your own, He forgives. For the blood of Jesus, the blood with which He was formed in the womb of Mary, is also the blood of God. And it pays for all. Receive today His body and His blood, which have been poured out for you. Your Father is giving you good gifts. Receive with Mary despite all other voices saying “how can bread and wine do this?” Say “let it be to me according it your Word.” For blessed more than the one who carried and nursed the infant Jesus are those who hear the Word of God and keep it. Amen.

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