Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sermon for Mary, Mother of our Lord

Mary, Mother of Our Lord – August 15th, 2010 – Luke 1:39-55

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +
I am going to say something that you probably did not except to hear this morning when you woke up. If you want to know what it is to be a Christian – look at Mary. Not pray to her, not blasphemously call her co-redemptrix as Rome does, not denigrate her and ignore her as the Protestants do – but look at Mary, the Mother of our Lord. Listen to her. Not because of her great authority, not because she has any power or might, but listen to her because these words which Luke records in his Gospel, the words of the Magnificat, are some of the most Christian words ever recorded; it is one of the best Christian confessions you will ever hear, and indeed you would do well to have her attitude and focus as well.

When we see Mary today, she is pregnant with our Lord Jesus – there she stands, God dwelling in her womb. She has gone to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who also is pregnant with John, and suddenly Elizabeth starts heaping praises upon praises on Mary. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb!” Heady stuff. I mean, this is big. Think about it this way. If for some fool reason we ever wanted to get into a “Christian” bragging contest about what we’ve done. . . oh, I’ve done this for Jesus, I did that, I gave such and such, you realize that Mary could just walk in and smash any of us. Oh, you did that, well I gave birth to Jesus. None of us are going to trump that. So, what does Mary do here? Does she boast? Does she glory in how awesome she is? Does she say, “Oh yes, Elizabeth, I am all that and a bag of chips”? No.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Right away, Mary’s thoughts are directed to Christ. Right away Mary shifts the attention from herself and to the Child in her womb. Okay, what’s happening to me is really neat – but let’s glorify God. That’s what that word “Magnify” means – let’s focus on how great and wondrous God is. And why is God great? Because God is my Savior. She cuts to the heart of the matter, doesn’t she? The point, the thrust, the center of everything in the Church is this – Christ Jesus came into the world to save you by going to the Cross and dying for your sins. That’s the point – that’s the focus. If you want to know how great and wondrous God is, that’s where you start – that’s the big thing. God’s greatness, God’s wonder and glory is shown most clearly, most powerfully when Christ Jesus hangs upon the cross for you. Mary gets that. God is her Savior – this wonder, this pregnancy isn’t merely to show how cool she is, it is the way in which God will be her Savior, and that is a wondrous thing.

“For He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.” Now, Mary has confessed that God is her great Savior. What does this mean, what does a God who saves people do? He looks upon Mary, even in her humble estate. What does this mean? It means that Mary is lowly, that there is nothing in Mary that would demand that God respect her. She is lowly, she is humble. Yet God, in His great mercy and love, looks upon her to be her Savior. Now then, does this not mirror the words we spoke ourselves a few moments ago? “I, a poor, miserable sinner”? When we confess that, we say exactly what Mary says – that we too are poor and lowly, that we are humble and unworthy servants – yet what does God do? He looks upon us with favor and forgiveness on account of the forgiveness won for us by Christ. God forgives the sinner, which is wondrous.

“For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.” And again, Mary gets it, she gets it where we are easily tempted into pride and arrogance. All generations call Mary blessed – and she is. But why is she called blessed, is it because she herself is so wondrous – do we call her blessed because right here she shows herself to be a wondrous theologian? Nope. She is called blessed because God has done great things for her. Yes, she is the Mother of our Lord – but that’s something God has done for her. And actually, more importantly, she is forgiven and declared righteous because of the Death and Resurrection of her Son, Christ Jesus – and she will be called blessed for His sake forever more. Now then – do you not know that this is your future as well? On account of Christ’s death and resurrection, you are forgiven and shall rise to eternal life – and all generations will call you blessed by God, blessed by His salvation. God has done great things for you – He has not made you to be His mother, but He has taken water and the Word and poured it upon you, attached His most Holy Name to you, baptized you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. The Father has made you His son, His daughter. Christ Jesus has made you His brother, His sister. The Spirit has made you His temple – for holy is the Name of the Triune God – and you are blessed, and shall be for all eternity… this is what God has done for you.

“And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.” We should fear and love God so that. . . we should confess our sin, we should confess that we have not been the people we ought – and what does our wondrous God do? He gives mercy. Always. From generation to generation God’s mercy flows to those who humbly confess their sin – the Blood of Christ covers every generation. Again – do you see how Mary is focusing totally and completely upon what God has done for her, done for you, done for all generations in His great mercy? Your salvation, your eternal life is secured by God. This is His awesomeness.

“He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.” And this mercy and goodness of God extends even into this life. I think that we forget sometimes just how thoroughly God has blessed us. In part, this is because we have the false preachers who keep offering new blessings, new wealth, new power at us, over and over and over. But the true wonder isn’t that God will give us more. . . look at Mary’s approach. God’s great blessing is that He hinders the wicked. Have you considered yourself blessed because some dictator hasn’t seized your goods this day, or that a warlord hasn’t taken over this area, enslaved your children? This is God’s goodness and blessing to you – He has restrained wickedness in your life – the troubles that you have seen in your days are but a mere fraction of what we would see if God did not with His might hold back wickedness. If left to our own devices man would literally make hell on earth – but God scatters the proud, brings down those who would do wickedness. This, again, He does simply out of His love and mercy for you.

“He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” Yes, this is speaking to daily bread, to the support and care of this Body – but on this morning, can we hear these words and but help to think of the Lord’s Supper? If you think yourself “rich” already in righteousness, if you spurn the forgiveness of sin, if you spurn our Lord Himself, if you deny His presence for your salvation in this meal – then this Supper is not for you, and you are sent away empty. But are you hungry for salvation? Are you hungry for righteousness – do you desire to be righteous and holy? Behold the table of the Lord, where Christ Jesus will fill you with His own Body and Blood, and there is nothing more holy or righteous than Christ. There are no greater “Good Things” than our Lord’s Body and Blood. Again, God in His mercy will fill you, fill you to the brim with everything needed for life and forgiveness and salvation.

And Mary concludes by saying, “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His offspring forever.” And this mercy that God has shown – it’s nothing new or unexpected. It is simply what God has promised – simply what God has proclaimed in His Word. Do you wish to know the promises of God – do you wish to know where the salvation of Christ Jesus may be found? It is in His Word – look to the Words which God spoke to the Fathers in the Old Testament, the words He spoke through the Prophets, the Words He preached Himself in the Gospel, the Words the Epistle writers wrote by the Spirit. And what do all these various books of Scripture do? They point to the mercy of God, who in love sends His Son Jesus to be the Messiah, to be the Christ, who dies and rises to bring forgiveness and salvation to you.

And that is the Magnificat – and in this, Mary does nothing but praise God for His goodness to her. Likewise, dear Christian – this is what our words, what our response to God is. Here in this house, we hear God’s Word of Salvation, we receive His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins, we are brought from sin and death to life in Christ, and seeing this we join in the songs of timeless praise that point out the glory of God’s salvation. Mary teaches you what praise is – praise focuses on what God has done for you. But most importantly – God has done mighty things for you, He has looked upon you with mercy and forgiven you for the sake of Christ Jesus, and He has made you to partake of eternal life even forevermore. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +


Kathy said...

Pastor Brown,

You are so close. I am currently and will continue to pray *to* Jesus' holy mother (and ours) that Mary will go to her Son and ask Him to help you see the truth of the Holy Catholic Church--the Church He founded. I hope you find your way home soon.

God's continued blessings on you and your family.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I will simply let Mary point others to her Son as she always has in the history of the Church - and I will pray to whom Paul and Peter and Ignatius of Antioch instruct me to pray.