Sermon on Luke 1:46-56 ~ Mary Teaches Us…

images (5)“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him,
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months, then returned to her house. [Luke 1:46-56]

 

images (5)In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Mary teaches us how we should love and praise God. First, she considers herself unworthy of God’s love.  Second, she leaves all God’s gifts alone, praising Him for them, claiming nothing for herself. Third, she’s a willing hostess to her godly guest. It is a sign of God’s faithful, loving kindness that Mary doesn’t turn this to her advantage. She’s the mother of God, but stays calm. She doesn’t allow pride to tempt her into sin.  If we come into even a little money, or hear someone speaking kindly about us, or see that we have more than our neighbor … We can’t tolerate being equal to anyone. That’s beneath us. It’s less than we deserve. When God gives us even the tiniest earthly gifts we become immeasurably proud. If we were told by an angel that we were the most blessed, that God’s favor shines most brightly on us, our arrogance would be uncontrollable.

This is why God allows us to remain poor and foolish. We can’t leave His gifts alone. We can’t stop ourselves from twisting and perverting them for our advantage. We can’t stay calm. We’re spiritual hyperactives. Our spirit rises and falls according to how He gives and takes away His gifts. But Mary remains the same. She lets God have His way with her. She draws from all that is happening to her only comfort, joy, and trust in God. We should too, but we don’t.

Like Adam and Eve we want to have the final say about good and evil. That’s why nothing is ever in tune with us. We blindly grab whatever there is for our benefit or the common good: democracy, health foods, church growth, web-surfing, liturgical dance, hypnotism, group encounters, sex, biking, special herbs and spices, weight-lifting, small group bible studies, withdrawl, vegetarianism, hiking in India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, gambling, drinking, yoga, backpacking, hanging around, Greek yogurt, Beethoven, Bach, Buddha, praise bands, carrot juice, suicide, spiritual gifts, jet travel, the West Coast lifestyle, a personal relationship with Jesus … It’s nice to have so many choices. So many gifts to play with. But, that’s why we’re so totally mad, frustrated, angry, hateful, and unfaithful. We know we’re going to lose everything in the end. It’s also why God must work for us, as He does with Mary, to bring calm and hope to our fickle, wandering hearts.

It’s a different thing though when God Himself does the work. He works by destroying or raising up before you know it. He alone, and no one else, will see it done. Since the wicked don’t want anything to do with this kind of Savior and Helper, He destroys them by allowing them to become wealthy, successful, enjoying good reputations and good health in this life. On the other hand, He lets the godly become powerless, failures, mocked, suffering every kind of misfortune because they’ve been given His Word. They are brought so low everyone supposes their end is near. But the truth is that in suffering and affliction He is present for you with all His power. Yet, He is so hidden in affliction that even those who suffer don’t see or feel His presence, they only believe. This is the power of God made perfect in weakness. Where your strength ends, God’s strength begins, so long as faith is present and you wait on Him. Then, when the affliction ends, it becomes obvious what great strength was hidden underneath the weakness. In the same way, Christ was powerless on the cross; and yet there He performed His mightiest work and conquered sin, death, world, hell, devil, and all evil for you.

This is the hardest point for you. Not that you believe He is the son of the Virgin Mary and God Himself, but that this Son of God is yours. As Mary heard the angel proclaim God’s heavenly words, believed those words, and so conceived and carried the Son of God in her womb, you hear the preacher proclaim God’s same heavenly words and by those words faith is conceived in you.

Therefore, we must daily learn by Mary’s example how we should love and praise God. Whatever the Church still has and still does is freely given to her in and through God’s Word, Jesus Christ. She doesn’t live from political, social, or spiritual activity. She does not feed and sustain herself on large numbers. It is a terrible superstition that Jesus Christ is powerful only there where two hundred or three thousand are gathered in His name! The Church lives only on God’s gracious words. She is fed only by the preaching of the Gospel. She is sustained only by the administration of the Sacraments … and by nothing else!

on_cross2May God in His grace put our unbelief to death and strengthen our weak faith. May He renew us by the example of Mary, through the great faith conceived by water and Spirit, and born of the New Testament in His blood. That and that alone is the way Christ Jesus overcomes the urgent needs of Mary, the Church, and all the saints in all their greatest and weightiest crises. Therefore, the Church today confesses with Mary and all the saints this certain hope that we have in and through Jesus Christ:

His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.” 
Amen.


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Sermon on Luke 1:46-56 ~ Mary Teaches Us… — 1 Comment

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