MIDWEEK ADVENT 2
Dec. 9, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Luke 1:41-45
Verse 1: Blessed is Mary.
Verse 2: Blessed is Mary’s baby.
Verse 3: What an honor!
Verse 4: Blessed is the one who believes.
The theme for our Midweek Advent worship is Sing a song for Advent. We are looking at songs that people sang soon before Jesus first Advent as the baby at Bethlehem. The careful listener or reader might be getting their mental pencil sharpened ready to grill me after service. “Hey Pastor! You said these were songs of Advent and I don’t see anything indicated in Luke’s Gospel that indicates Elizabeth sang anything, not even the headings put in by the Bible translators. What gives?” Fair enough but now I rebut that every song does not start out as a song. It begins with ideas that become tunes and words that need to be passed down and repeated. Songs certainly do that so for this service we actually are going to help Elizabeth write her song.
Let’s review the background. Elizabeth was married to a priest named Zechariah. They were past childbearing age and had not been able to have children. An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that he and Elizabeth would have a special child. They were to name him John and he would prepare the hearts of the people of Israel for the Lord who was coming soon. Zechariah doubted this wonderful news so as a consequence would be unable to speak until John was born. Now it is 6 months later. Mary was a relative of Elizabeth. She had no doubt heard the story of an angel appearance and had the proof of it in Elizabeth’s pregnancy. She too had received an angel visit who had announced an even more miraculous pregnancy. Mary would conceive even though she was a virgin. She would give birth to the Messiah! Who better to relate to angel visits and miraculous pregnancies than Elizabeth? So Mary went to visit her. This is where our text picks up.
“Just as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She called out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 In fact, just now, as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy! 45 Blessed is she who believed, because the promises spoken to her from the Lord will be fulfilled!”
There is Elizabeth’s song. But it’s not done yet. What kind of tune should it have? It’s important that songs, especially songs for the Lord, have tunes that are appropriate to the message. You can’t have a lively peppy tune if the words are expressing sorrow over sin and repentance. Then the tune needs to be sad. What should it be here? Happy. Joyful. Confident. OK, now that we have that done let’s write the verses. Looks like four of them to me. 1.Blessed is Mary. 2. Blessed is Mary’s baby. 3. What an honor! 4. Blessed is the one who believes.
Now more words for the verses. Verse one says “Blessed are you among women.” Elizabeth’s song teaches us a proper view of Jesus’ mother Mary. The word translated here “Blessed” literally means spoken well of or praised. We certainly hold Mary in high regard. She is not God. She is not the Redeemer. She was a sinner saint just like we are now. But what an example of faith! Unlike Zechariah, the priest, who should have been an example of faith when the angel spoke to him but was not, Mary certainly was. She accepted the Gabriel’s impossible to believe message. She had to endure rejection from Joseph who did not believe the truth she told of Gabriel’s visit and her miraculous pregnancy. She would have the lifelong struggle of trusting that the baby that needed her daily care was God Himself. She would have to stand by and watch as her Son sacrificed Himself even for the people who rejected Him. Verse 1 of Elizabeth’s song reminds us to speak well of Mary but not treat her as God.
That’s reserved for her Son. Verse 2. “Blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth’s song teaches us to speak well of and praise the fruit of Mary’s womb, her baby, Jesus. Our praise for Jesus is higher than that of Mary. This is God’s Son as well as Mary’s son. Jesus is the Savior of the world. Only He will perfectly obey all of God’s laws as our substitute. Only His life is worth enough that His sacrifice can pay for the sins of the world. Elizabeth’s song teaches us to speak well of Jesus, to praise Him. It then sadly reminds us of the times when we have looked at worshipping Jesus as a burden or a have to. We remember with shame half hearted praise and straying attention. As Pastor Waldschmidt is so good at reminding us, “Good thing we have a Savior!” His name is Jesus, the fruit of Mary’s womb.
If only we could have the heart that Elizabeth revealed in the 3rd verse of her song. “But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 In fact, just now, as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy!” Let’s take the last part first. John the Baptist reacted in the womb to the presence of Jesus. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit works through the Gospel message in Word and Sacrament because He has promised to. Here we find He is working in an unborn baby! What a great encouragement for moms to be to make sure they are hearing the words of God spoken and to read Bible stories to your babies in the womb. The Spirit will work as the Spirit will work. And He had worked on the heart of Elizabeth. If only we could be like her. She is painfully aware of the privilege to be in the presence of her Lord. Again, it leads us to repent of the times we feel like we have to worship the Lord as though He could not get by without us when in fact we need to ask why we are so favored that God would come to us!
And that takes us to the final verse of Elizabeth’s song. “Blessed is the one who believes.” Blessed is she who believed, because the promises spoken to her from the Lord will be fulfilled!” Even though there are three “blessed” in Elizabeth’s song they are not the same. The first 2 are the same literally “spoken well of.” The last one is an entirely different word. It means “made happy” or “good things happen to.” For 6 months Elizabeth has been living with a very visible but silent reminder of what happens when you don’t believe what God says. She would live another 3 months and 8 days with what happens when you don’t believe what God says. Zechariah, her husband, could not speak. While she might have liked that for a while, it was not a blessing. It was a consequence. Mary was different. She believed and was blessed. Do you and I?
Advent calls on us to prepare to be ready, yes to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas but also for Jesus to Advent to us again. Do you believe He is coming back, that He could at any moment? The promises spoken by the Lord will be fulfilled. And all who believe that will be made happy and have good things happen. That’s something to sing about with a happy tune.
I don’t know if Elizabeth really appreciates our help in writing her song but certainly she will appreciate it if we put into practice what her song proclaimed: speak well of Mary and honor her as a faithful person, 2. but to speak better of her Son Jesus and honor Him as God’s Son and the only Savior, 3. be humble before God and 4. believe whatever He says. Amen.