Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Advent - Luke 1:26-38
Jesus is coming. Nothing can get in the way of it. Your lack of preparation will not keep him at bay. The possibility of ignoring prophecy doesn’t throw a curveball into his plans. Even closing off your ears to the words of the preacher cannot keep the promise of Jesus, a Jesus born to be a savior for his people, saving them from their sins, coming as a King in glory and light, the Son of the Most High whose kingdom will have no end. He is coming, he has come, he will come again. Amen Come Lord Jesus.
But, how can this be? Well, Mary…let me tell you - God. Throughout it all, before you were prepared, God has come. The Spirit lighting upon a girl who has never known a man that God might become a man and save us from our sin and from death. Taking on flesh, because without flesh God can’t die. So, whether Mary is ready or not, whether you are ready or not, his advent is imminent. We can try our hardest to stop it. To avoid it. To close ourselves off from this baby redeemer. But a virgin, age, or effort can’t change that he is going to be present for you. Is present for you. The present for you.
We’ve talked about it this whole season. The First Sunday of Advent we spoke of this Jesus who will come in glory and power. Glory and power so as to defeat sin and death. Sin that Isaiah had said was so grave that even our best deeds are like filthy rags, and yet a child born in a filthy barn, laid in a filthy manger, is the remedy for our filthy rags to wash you white as snow through his power and glory.
That first midweek service we heard about St. Nicholas. Of the love of God enlivened in him. 1 John 4, there the preacher calling you “agaped ones.” Loved ones. Announcing God’s favor. And then these words - In this is the love of God which has been made known – that God has sent his only-begotten Son into the world in order that we might live in him. This is love, not that we ourselves have loved God, but that he himself has loved us and sent his Son – the embodied forgiveness for our sins. Telling us of the love of God and then it’s necessity – a baby born to speak forgiveness to us for seeking love everywhere else but the Lord.
The Second Sunday our kids preached to us the story of this Christ who is coming, but all the while echoing John the Baptist – One is coming whose sandal I cannot even come close to untying. My hands being too unclean. My thoughts being to far from God. My heart, so vain. Yet, this one is coming. Until this happens, hear the preacher in your ears, prepare the way of the Lord.
Then there was St Lucia day. We even had a visit from St. Lucia at First Lutheran during our second midweek service. She looked a lot like me, longer hair, shorter. Prettier. It was a service of light. Speaking of this light that has come into the darkness. Dispelling it. Removing it. 1 John 1 and John 1 were our themes. A calling of this Jesus who says of himself that he is the light of the world, a light no darkness can overcome, so to us who are walking in deep darkness, as the Gospels tell us – a light has dawned. Like our parents turning on the light in our bedrooms to wake us up out of our teenage slumber, so this Christ is coming to be the light in our darkness. A light we can’t stamp out. We can try, but we will fail.
Last Sunday it was our choir who recounted the story. Announcing the birth of this child who is this worldwide savior. One whom we are not to fear, but is our perfect sacrifice and a wonder of wonders. All of this proclamation, this preaching, that we might know that we are not Jesus. John the Baptist, in what would have been our reading for last Sunday says it himself. The leaders come asking in John 1 – are you him? He says “No.” They ask “Who are you then? We need to know.” John tells them – You want to know? I am a voice. That is all. A voice in the wilderness crying out that you might see and come to this Messiah, who is coming, who will do for you what you cannot do yourself. I might give you a bath with some water, John says, but Jesus will come with the Spirit to bathe you in his fire. To purge you, walk with you in life, being your Savior. A savior, proclaimed by a preacher, to those who have no clue.
This week, for our last Wednesday Vespers service, we heard about Katie Luther. The wife of Martin. A former nun captured by the Word of Christ. By this Christ who comes to his people to set them free. Coming under such conviction that she left what she had known to an unknown future, only to marry the very man whose preaching of the Gospel had brought freedom from the attempts to be good enough to deserve Jesus. Never being able to deserve a Jesus who means more than we ever could give him credit for. Therefore, the promise of this Jesus should cause a disturbance in us. Maybe leaving behind something, passing our so-called lives from death to life. Crucified with him, to be raised with him. Eyes opened, drawn out of the darkness into the light that shines brighter for things different than what we think important.
Now, can you wonder then, with Mary – how can this be? This Jesus. How can it be that this Christmas is not about family, or friends, or food, or presents, or trees? How can this be? It can be because the Spirit is going to over-shadow you. The work of God in and among you. The person of Christ being Jesus for you. A promised one that is promised to you because we wouldn’t expect it to be there, and it sounds to good to be true anyways. Why should God possibly come for us? That is the gloriousness of the Christ, of the manger, of the Gospel story of the Nativity. Jesus comes. That is what you need to know. He already has. Are you ready for him? Who cares. He doesn’t care about your readiness. He already came to an unready world. In fact, that is what he wants. The unready. As we prepare to have the prophecy fulfilled through the preaching of the promise, the greatest word we can hear is that it is your lack of preparation that brought him, and it is this lack preparation that continues to cause the Spirit to do her work among you. Not to make you special, more moral, nicer, godlier, saintly, more loving. It is to save you from your sins by saying to you, you are forgiven for being unprepared. That is the controversy of this baby born for you. A baby who comes for the greatest of sinners. The worst of the worst. Not for the nice enough. The good enough. Whether good man or bastard, he is still the body broken and blood shed for you. That is what we await. Thanks be to God. Amen.