Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God, our Father,
and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the
text for this morning comes from the Gospel reading.
The choir sang right before the Gospel reading, “The virgin
shall conceive and bear forth a Son and He shall be called Emmanuel.” Those
words are the mystery of your faith. They are the mystery of Aaron’s faith that
he just received and into which he had been baptized.
“The virgin shall conceive…” which is oxymoronic at its
best. One cannot conceive unless one ceases to be a virgin, but in this
miraculous article of your faith did a virgin conceive, and not just conceive
another human being, but a human being in which God dwells, fully God and fully
man in the womb of this woman, this young girl named Mary, betrothed to Joseph.
This is the faith into which Aaron has been baptized and
which we confessed and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was
conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. That is the faith that
you and I believe. That’s the faith that you and I were taught by the faithful
parents and grandparents, teachers, Sunday school teachers, and pastors in your
And that’s the faith that we confess to the world, this
faith that has hope and salvation offered to the whole world. But it is a
mystery indeed, because it is beyond human reason and intellect to grasp. It
is graspable only by faith that God alone speaks into being. Just as Aaron’s
faith was spoken into being in that thought and the words and the water, so in
Mary’s womb was Christ spoke into being by the Word of God proclaimed by the
angel Gabriel. And Mary in complete submission, “Let it be done unto me as you
have said.” That is submission indeed.
She was probably a young teenager at best. She was not
immaculately conceived. She was born of sinful parents and she herself was a
sinner and she died a redeemed sinner, trusting in the offspring of her womb,
God in the flesh. But make no mistake, she is the mother of God. And what a
beautiful statement that life began at the moment of conception. It did not
take months or weeks down the pike. It began at the moment of that conception.
Just like in your mother’s womb did your life begin at the
moment of conception, too. When you as God’s created human being with a
complete soul began to be knit together in your mother’s womb. From that moment
of conception forward, you were and always have been a human being. But in the womb
of this vessel known as Mary, from that moment of conception was God and man
completely intertwined and brought together in the person of Jesus.
And from the moment of Mary’s response, “Let it be done unto
me as you have said,” did her life change dramatically. For nine long months,
she had to live with all of the talking behind her back as she who had not
known a man was pregnant. She who would proclaim her virginity, yet everyone
would scoff at it because how can a virgin conceive. For nine long months, she
had to live with being outside of a cultural norm, but did it really end at the
end of those nine months? Or did it just continue until she finally died?
Simeon’s words were to her, “And a sword shall pierce your
own soul as well,” because she would also witness the complete despisal of the
fruit of her womb, the rejection by mankind for whom He was born, the despisal,
the scoffing, and the mocking as she herself received but of a much greater
content with God in the flesh. And she would watch the fruit of her womb die.
Mothers and fathers, you and you alone know what it’s like
to see a child die. If not your own, you can only imagine seeing it in someone
else’s. She watched not only the flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone, but
the God of her creation die for her and that is an article of your faith, the
faith into which Aaron has been baptized and in which you yourselves have been
baptized. And it is the faith that tramples on the head of the serpent.
In Genesis, when Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel and the
other sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, she who is the first mother of all
created human beings can only give birth to death. No different than you
mothers and fathers. You cannot conceive and give birth to anything else but
death, for that is what all of us stand to inherit as sons and daughters of
Adam and Eve.
And, yet, in Mary’s womb did she give birth to life, the
very antithesis to Eve’s offspring of whom you and I count ourselves. And being
the antithesis to that, it is our hope and that is the great fruit of the faith
that you’ve been baptized into, the joy of having that to confess to a world
that does not see it, and yet, belief still comes by God’s power of His Holy
Spirit, as you witnessed it this morning in that infant, the most glorious
miracle of all, faith being created in the heart of somebody and something that
Life—resurrection was beheld by your eyes, and now you have
made your child an enemy of Satan, as we all are. But one who will and can
trample upon the head of the serpent for we inherit that which unto which we
are joined—Christ and all of His benefits. And having that great inheritance,
we have something to confess to the world and not be afraid.
But then there are those moments—there are those moments
when we realize the great cross that God has laid upon our shoulders. And we
realize the great travails of living in this wilderness of which we live and
the words of our, the mother of our Lord, are hard to confess—“May it be done
unto me as you have said”—when God has challenged our faith and our belief in
this article of faith.
Those words don’t flow off the lips as they flowed off of
our—the mother of our Lord’s lips. They choke right here at the times and the
places where we cannot make sense of God, trying to find the answers to things
that are unanswerable in this life. And yet—and yet—what is more unanswerable
and unexplainable than God would take death and make life from it? That God
would choose you and make you His child? That God would bear you as Mary bore
Christ? That God would give birth to you here in this place and a name that
goes with it and a Father who will not abandon you nor leave you nor ever
forsake you, but be Father to you as long as you live? That, too, is
unexplainable for to explain it would be nothing more than to look and point to
something outside of the grace of God, and that is a sin.
This is the faith unto which you have been baptized and of
which you were taught. And you in turn as parents have taught it to your
children, and it is your prayer that they, too, would teach it to their
children. And the power of such faith is remarkable.
There’s a beautiful story intimated to me from our fellow
brothers and sisters in Siberia where following the Second World War many of
our Polish Lutheran brothers were exiled out of Poland and sent to the far
hinterlands of Siberia where there weren’t pastors. Not just weren’t for a
little while, where there was this woman who was 75 years old before she ever
saw a pastor for the first time in her life. Her mother who had been given that
gift taught to her daughter the words of Luther’s small catechism and that is
all that this woman knew and had been given to her.
When finally a Lutheran pastor came to celebrate the Lord’s
Supper among these fellow Lutherans. He wanted to make sure she knew what she
was stepping into and asked her, “What is the Lord’s Supper?” And without
batting an eye, she confessed the exact words her mother had taught her from
the Small Catechism, and that is the faith into which you’ve been baptized. It
transcends human suffering. It goes beyond where you live and why you live
where you live and what has happened to your family or your parents or to you.
It transcends and goes beyond all that, just as it transcended Mary’s life and
her suffering and sorrow. It is that which carries us to our grave.
That’s the mystery of the faith who, for us and for our
salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the holy Virgin Mary and
has made man.
In His name, the God-man Jesus, the fruit of Mary’s womb. Amen.
Will you pray with me.
Savior of the nations, come. Virgin’s Son, make here Your home.
Marvel now, oh Heaven and Earth, that the Lord chose such a birth, not by human
flesh and blood, by the Spirit of our God was the Word of God made flesh.
Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh. Here, a maid was found with child, yet
remained a virgin mild. In her womb, this truth was shown. God was there upon
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy