Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Messengers and Their Words

Advent Midweek 3
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Luke 1:26-38

The Gospel reading for tonight is more like what we would traditionally use for Advent, being as it’s a text which points toward the birth of Christ. The ones we’ve looked at so far were of what happened after His birth. And yet both have been very helpful in our preparation of our celebration of Christ’s birth. They have given us a better grasp of why Jesus was born. This is helpful in this season of preparation.

Now tonight we have the announcement to Mary of the coming birth. The angel Gabriel is the one bringing the news. The word angel actually means messenger. But there are many kinds of messengers. In the Gospel readings for our Sunday worship services we’ve been hearing a lot about one of the most famous messengers, John the Baptist. Last week we heard about some very interesting people bringing the news of the birth of the new king to the current man in power, Herod. The Magi had themselves heard the message and made their way to see the newborn king. And of course before that we had angels again, the well known messengers of the Good News to the shepherds. After they saw Jesus, the shepherds themselves became messengers.

Gabriel has something in common with all the others and that is the words that he speaks. He speaks words that have been given to him by God. That’s what messengers do, they bring a message from one and speak it to another. In the case of these messengers, the one that gave the message was God. Look at all the different places and the people the messengers were sent to.

John was sent to the masses. The Magi came to the king. The angels came to shepherds out in the fields. The same shepherds then went out and told people. Gabriel was sent to Mary. God’s message is sent out to all kinds of people in all kinds of places. The messengers may vary, but the message remains the same. That’s why Mary could say to Gabriel, “let it be to me according to your word.” What she was saying was, “let it be to me according to the Word of God. (In other words, I believe that the message you are speaking to me is the very Word of God.)”

And this what this Advent has been all about. It has been about Christ. Every season of the Church Year is about Christ. Every message in the Scriptures is about Christ. The word Advent means “coming”. In Advent we prepare for our celebration of the coming of Christ. The messengers we’ve heard about were preparing the people of God for the very coming of Christ. He has now come. He came at Bethlehem.

And now that He has, what do we do? What is the significance of our preparation now that He has come? Well if we go back to the messengers and their message we will see. They not only spoke that Christ was coming, but why He came. It was to forgive sins. But He never intended to come at Bethlehem, to live, suffer, die, rise, and ascend into heaven only to leave us be. When He forgives sins He does it completely. And that’s why when the messengers say that Christ is coming, they mean that He’s coming and that He’ll keep on coming.

He came at Bethlehem, He continues to come today. John the Baptist foreshadowed this in His preaching that Jesus would come to Baptize. That’s exactly how He comes to us today—He comes to us in our Baptism. When Gabriel spoke the message to Mary he was giving us words which direct us to much more than just the conception, nine months of being in the womb, and birth of Christ. He was declaring the very message of God coming in the flesh. Living on this side of the ascension, we see how Christ continues to do that today, in His Holy Supper. He comes in the flesh, His very body and blood bound up in that bread and wine of the altar.

Mary spoke the words of humble faith to Gabriel: “let it be to me according to your word.” We are like Mary, we speak words of humble faith to our Lord: “let it be to me according to Your Word.” When He tells us that He comes to us in the flesh in that bread and wine, we might respond like Mary and question, “how can this be?” But by the grace of God, and according to His Word, we respond in faith, believing that the very Son who gave His life on the cross gives Himself to us in the Supper.

We have seen that all the messengers have something in common: they speak the Word given to them by God. They have something else in common: when they speak their message it is never about them, it is always about Christ. Because while messengers deal in words, the messengers sent by God deal in the Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. The messengers of Christ proclaim a message of the Word, Christ, given and born for us; suffered and died, for us; risen and ascended, for us. Always coming to us in His Holy Word and His gracious Sacraments. We rejoice God has sent these messengers to us so that we may hear them again and again, hearing more and more of Christ and His salvation. Amen.


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