+ Advent Midweek 3, December 19th 2012 +Guest preaching atTrinity, Whittier
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
Advent is a season of preparation.As we have seen and heard tonight, the children have prepared well these last few weeks: learning songs, memorizing Scripture, preparing for Christmas.
And undoubtedly, you have been preparing at home too: Cards to send. Shopping to finish. Presents to wrap. House to clean. Cookies to bake. Parties to attend. Make a list and check it twice…after all, it’s only 5 days till Christmas.As hard as it may seem, with all of the hurrying and scurrying around we do this time of the year, we can still be caught unprepared for Christmas. Because despite all the preparations we have in mind, Christ has more in mind for you in Advent and Christmas than cookies and glitter and ornaments – fun though these may be.
Tonight, Mary’s song – the Magnificat – reminds us that our preparations are not complete until Christ has prepared us for His Advent and His Christmas. For without Christ’s incarnation, all the other trappings of the holy days aren’t worth the cardboard tubes or boxes they came so carefully wrapped in.Mary’s song prepares us for Mary’s Son, Jesus. He comes for us, to rescue us from sin and slavery, to defeat the devil and bring us home with him. Jesus comes, that’s what Advent means.
Jesus came in human flesh, the Mighty One was born in a lowly manger. God his strength in the delicate arms of an infant. The King of creation made his throne room in a feeding trough. The Savior of the world came swaddled in the things of his creation, a diapered divinity. He is Emmanuel, God with us. God for us. God who is one of us. Mary’s song prepares us to meet her Son, your Savior and hers…at Christmas and for Jesus’ second coming.Yes, Advent is more than preparation for Christmas. In Advent we hear John the Baptizer’s warning cry: repent, prepare the way of the Lord. Leave behind your former way of life. Turn away from sin and death. Return to the Lord. The world may not end on December 21st in Mayan calendar madness but it will end someday. Christ’s first coming was in lowliness and humility; his second coming will be in glory and power. But for the Christian there is no fear. Christ’s return is good news; we welcome his return. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, we pray. That’s why Advent is a season of waiting.
And as we wait, Christ comes, even now. Jesus comes to you in the Lord’s Supper, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of bread and wine, the bread of life is laid in the manger of your mouth. The Word made flesh continues to speak his word to you through the Scriptures and through the pastor’s word of absolution. Christ came as a child to make us his children in Holy Baptism. Christ comes for you here in this place, right where he has promised to dwell with you.And as even as Mary was singing her song, God was preparing her to be the Mother of God. Don’t be fooled by this young woman’s humble upbringing or social status. There is more to Mary than meets the eye. For hidden under her humble flesh is a yet more humble Savior. And by his humiliation on the cross, we are exalted. Hidden under her lowly flesh are the mighty arms that will bear your sin and death on the cross. Hidden in her womb is God in human flesh. God has eyes and ears, toes and a real body.
As we continue to grieve the death of 20 children last week in Connecticut, Christ’s incarnation reminds us that God too was once a child for us and for all who suffer. God sucked his thumb. God dirtied his diaper. God learned his A, B, C’s; God was a teenager; God walked, talked, cried and laughed, lived and died – all so that we who sit in darkness and the shadow of death might have light and life by his innocent suffering and death.Mary’s song prepares you to meet her Son. For she sang this song not for herself alone, but for us to sing after her. My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Tonight, that’s your song as well.
Because if you are lowly and downcast in guilt or shame– Christ has come to raise you up by taking your guilt and shame on himself.If you are in need of mercy, seeing none around you in the world, Christ comes to be your mercy, for he has taken all the world’s hatred, sin and death on himself for you.
If you are broken by sin and suffering, your pride shattered by the terror of judgment, Christ comes as your Great physician of body and soul to bind your wounds in his and give you a new heart and a new hope, not in the world’s preparations, but in His coming for you in Bethlehem, on the cross, and the Last Day.For he has helped his servant Israel and Mary and you in remembrance of His mercy. And in Christ’s birth, death and resurrection – you are prepared for whatever today or tomorrow brings.
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.