Sermon for December 20, 2020 — Hail, Mary!
2 Samuel 7:8-16:
8“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.13He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your throne will be established forever.’”
Psalm 89 on Page 98 in Christian Worship
I will sing of the Lords great love forever;
I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
O Lord God Almighty, who is like you?
You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.
They rejoice in your name all day long;
they exult in your righteousness.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
25Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—27to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
“Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.” “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” If you grew up in a family that had Catholic family members or if you grew up Catholic yourself, you are probably pretty familiar with those words. Even if you didn’t, you’ve probably heard them on an occasion or two. This is the prayer that is repeated many times as a Catholic prays the rosary. It is a prayer that comes, in large part, from our text for today. However, it twists what is said in those verses. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he was not telling her that she, herself, was someone who could bring the forgiveness of sins to anyone (as the prayer says). What is the angel saying when he speaks to her following his greeting?
I. Mother of God
II. Full of Grace
We all know the story of what happened on that day. This was an event it took place six months after the Angel Gabriel made a similar announcement in the temple in Jerusalem. On that occasion, he appeared to Zachariah and told him that he and his wife we’re going to have a child in their old age and that that child would be the forerunner of the savior. This was an event similar to events that happened in the Old Testament. God would show that he was at work by allowing parents who had not been able to have any children finally able to conceive in their old age. We think of the stories of Isaac and Samuel, for example. What the Angel announced to Mary, though, was something that was truly unique. It was a one of a kind event in the history of the world. A woman who was a Virgin was going to conceive and have a son. This would show the world that this child, Jesus, was both God and man in one person. She would be, in a very real sense, the mother of God.
As such, she would have experiences unlike the experiences of any other mother on the face of the earth. She would get a front row seat 2 all of the events in the life of the savior. She got her first inkling of what this would be like when, at the suggestion of the Angel, she went and visited her relative Elizabeth who was expecting the birth of John the Baptist. As soon as she approached Elizabeth, a relative greeted her with a message that had been given her by God. She told her that she knew right away that Mary was going to be the mother of her Lord. She also said that the baby had left in the womb out of joy of being in the presence of the one that he would be announcing.
What was it like for Mary to have this front row seat in God’s history? In thinking about this, I think about one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time , the nativity story. There is a wonderful scene in that movie where Mary talks to Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem and says, “when will we know? Will it be something that he says or some little look that he gives us?” We only have 1 event from Jesus childhood recorded for us in the gospels. In that incident, Jesus told his mother that he must be about his father’s business when he was a boy in the temple in Jerusalem. We are told that Mary was amazed at what he said on that event.
We know that she was on hand when Jesus performed at least one of his miracles, The turning of the water into wine. She was probably also witnessed too a number of Jesus other miracles. Of course, we know that she stood at the foot of the cross as her son was put to death. Simeon, when Jesus was just a baby, had foretold that a sword would Pierce Mary’s soul as the world turned against her son. That, of course, was not the end of it. Although the Bible doesn’t specifically say that Jesus appeared to her after his resurrection, it is probably very likely that she was with the disciples either in the upper room or when Jesus made an appearance by the shore of the sea of Galilee in the 40 days that pass before he ascended into heaven. She was truly blessed to be so close to the savior and to witness all of these things that we can only see in our mind’s eye. In that way, it might be difficult for us to understand what she went through. However, there is another way in which she viewed her son that we are very much apart of.
When the Angel appeared to Mary, He addressed her as the one to whom God gave favor and and gave her the assurance that God was with her. He did not say this to her because she was especially good Anne had earned the favor of God; he was saying this too a woman who stood there shaking in fear before a holy Angel of God because she knew that she was sinful. You said these things to her as a way of assuring her that she could stand before him without fear. You see, Mary is like us in one very important way. She, like us, needed a savior. When the Angel made his announcement to her, he told her that she and her husband Joseph were to give the child a special name. They were to name him Jesus. This is a name, like so many Hebrew names, that tells a story. The name means The Lord saves. What he told her as he continued to speak to her was how God was going to accomplish that through this child who would be born to her.
He was going to be just the savior that Mary needed, just the savior that we need. He would be the one who is share our flesh and blood. He would be born of a woman and he would be descended from David. But he would also be the true son of God. The fact that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit would show that fact. There would be no human father for him. God would simply cause his son to become an embryo in her womb. This one who had created the heavens and the earth would become a part of his creation. This one who could fill the universe would become smaller than the head of a pin and finally be born in the way that we are all born. From his birth on, he would be fulfilling his father’s mission and keeping God’s law in our place. As he kept it perfectly as the God man, is perfect keeping of the law would count for all of us. When he as true God and true man would die on the cross in the eyesight of his mother Mary, his death as the God man would pay the price that God demanded for sin and we do it perfectly since he was the son of God.
This was the savior that Mary needed. After the angelhead made his announcement, she humbly accepted what he had to say enjoy fully believed that a savior was on his way would redeem her from her sense. No, we can’t imagine what it was like for her to watch our savior grow up. We can know, however, the same thing that she knew about her son. She would know at this was not just her son but her savior. We see Jesus as our brother and our savior. The one savior that we needed. Amen.