INI + AMEN.
How does God come to you? It’s a good question for us to ponder as we finish up Advent. Adventus: “He comes.” But how does He come? I’m sure you’d find many answers to this question. There are those who like to think that God just comes to them, that when they’re alone, meditating, enjoying nature, or whatever else they just feel God’s presence. Maybe at a high point in life there’s the same sort of thing. Really God’s presence, then, His coming is something that’s just felt. Our connection to the divine is made through feelings and emotions because if you “feel” something, that’s how you really know for certain that God’s there and with you. That’s how you know God’s come to you.
But the Lord’s got a completely different answer for you. It’s not revealed in emotions or feelings at all. It’s revealed in His Word, and for us today we get the answer from our Gospel text in the words of Elizabeth. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” There is our answer for how the Lord God comes to us. This is the truth proclaimed throughout the entire Bible: “I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed; He shall crush your head, and you shall strike His heel.” “The Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Adventus: He comes. The Lord comes to us. How then does He come?
THE LORD COMES TO US IN THE PERSON OF HIS SON.
(I. He came in Mary’s Womb)
The Lord God Himself, the One who created the heavens, the earth, and all that is in them is conceived in the Womb of the Virgin. Jesus wasn’t God only when He became a man. He wasn’t just God after He was ascended or out of the empty tomb, once He’d risen for you, or on the cross, when He died for you, or walking around Galilee or when He was twelve years old in the temple or even when He was lying in the manger. Jesus is the Son of God Himself, “the One who was and is and is to come, the Almighty.” He was God before He was conceived, and so He was God from the moment He was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There the Son, true God and true Man, was God and Lord of all as embryo, as fetus, as infant, as we sing in one of our hymns in Lutheran Service Book: “In her womb this truth was shown: God was there upon His throne.” This is exactly what Elizabeth confesses when the Blessed Virgin greets her, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Mary is the God-bearer, the Mother of God. For this reason we stand for life against the Planned Parenthoods of the world. God is man, man to deliver. He was man in the womb. He lived our life from conception to resurrection from the dead. When a Christian is buried we pray, “Lord Jesus, by Your three-day rest in the tomb You hallowed the graves of all who believe in you.” When someone is Baptized we pray, “Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, You sanctified all waters.” Because of what the Son of God did for us in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it would be right for us to pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, through Your conception and growth in the womb of Mary, You showed that you love us, care for us, and sustain us at all points of life.” As Christians we love and defend the preborn because the Lord God Himself was preborn in the womb of Mary. Our value is based on what God Himself took up.
Elizabeth confesses what God took up, and so, as Lutherans, we confess the same thing as Elizabeth because it’s what Scripture says. We confess that “Mary, the most blessed Virgin, did not bear a mere man. But, as the angel ‹Gabriel› testifies, she bore a man who is truly the Son of the most high God [Luke 1:35]. He showed His divine majesty even in His mother’s womb, because He was born of a virgin, without violating her virginity. Therefore, she is truly the mother of God and yet has remained a virgin.” (FC VIII.24)
To make this abundantly clear, that He was carried in Mary’s womb, the Lord works a great miracle. “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.” As much as Jesus is Lord of all in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so also John is forerunner in the womb of Elizabeth. He points to Jesus, his Lord and Savior. As Mary’s voice carried the Lord’s greeting, so also Elizabeth. John in the womb responds and leaps for joy! As Elizabeth makes known to Mary and us: “when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
(II. He comes within the Church.)
THE LORD COMES TO US IN THE PERSON OF HIS SON. This is seen in Mary’s Womb because the Son of God, who is God Himself, “for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.” He was carried in a womb for us, was born for us. Suffered and died for us. Rose for us. Lives and reigns for us both now and forever.
The Lord still comes to us in the person of His Son. That’s what the Son Himself promises. He says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” He says, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This isn’t just a nice sounding idea, some abstract “being among you” that we have to discern with feelings. “I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to cherish all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” “Take, eat; this is My body, given for you. Drink of it, all of you; this is My blood, shed for you. Do this.”
Let’s bring this all together. You see, the Blessed Virgin Mary was the God-bearer. She bore God the Son in her womb. The Church is also God-bearer. She bears Him in His gifts. He comes to us, is present with us, in His absolution, which binds and looses sins not only on earth but in heaven. He comes to us in His baptism. He comes to us in His preaching and teaching. He comes to us with His body and blood. He is borne to us in these ways, these physical and real ways—even as He was physically conceived and borne in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. Through the Church’s voice the Lord, who is carried and given within Her, sends His greetings to all people, calling them to repentance and faith in Him.
It’s the end of Advent. Adventus: He comes. THE LORD COMES TO US IN THE PERSON OF HIS SON. He was conceived and borne in Mary. She is the God-bearer, the mother of God. He came through her, His human nature from her. As we confess in the Small Catechism, “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.” He was Lord in her womb, He was Lord on the cross, dying for you, He was Lord rising for you. He is Lord as He comes to you now in His Church. Jesus is how God comes to you. He IS God, the Son of the Father. Feelings don’t quite enter into it. He’s already done everything for you. It’s what we heard from Elizabeth: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
INI + AMEN.