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Luke 1:26-33

 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." (ESV)

 

Who Can Be Sad?

 J. K. Wilhelm Loehe, Pastor 

2 January 2014

What joy the incarnation brings to the world! The joy above all sadness is ours in the season of the incarnation. There is no sadness possible. It is the re-birthday of Life. That Life which is the life has come into the world; a world filled with the dirt of decay and dust of death. That Life stands astride the slumbering cemetery of the world and calls out life. The Word's becoming flesh cries to those in the sleep of death and crows them awake. We who have been born with the stone deafness of death now hear the incarnate Word's Word.

 

Our Savior was born. Let us be glad. There is no place for sadness when we keep the birthday of the Life. This Life destroys the fear of death and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all people one common measure of joy. Because our Lord, the destroyer of sin and death, finds no one free from sin, so He has come to free us all. The true democracy of life comes only in Christ. Let us rejoice that victory draws near. We sinners should be glad because we have been invited to pardon. Let us take courage because we are called to the life.

 

In the incarnation Christ assumes the very instrument of our demise by taking our flesh. He does battle in the flesh with the one who perverted flesh. He takes on our human nature, which had been weakened, corrupted and made subject to death and the devil by our sin. Clothed in the weakness of the flesh, He did battle against our corruptor.

 

The re-creation of Adam is complete in the Life of the Word made flesh. And He leads the way from this death-darkened world into the new world re-made by Him in his birth. In that flesh, as it was intended to be; holy and without sin, our Lord Jesus Christ invades the dominion of our enemy. He enters the battleground for us while setting aside the exercise of his divine power, and "taking mortal form for mortals' sake" rescues that flesh from both corruption and corruptor. The inventor of death, the devil, is conquered through that flesh which he had conquered.

 

In this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on astonishing principles of fairness and equity. The Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing our enemy with the same form and nature, which shares our mortality. In this very mortal weakness He is Victor. Our champion has triumphed. Our mortal flesh has had immortality conferred upon it again. The new era has begun. Eden has returned. All things are made new. The Life has come among us that we might have life. When such tidings are proclaimed, who can be sad?

 

Gregory Thaumaturgus

 

"Today (at the Annunciation) strains of praise are sung joyfully by the choir of angels, and the light of the advent of Christ shines brightly upon the faithful. Today is the glad springtime to us, and Christ the Sun of righteousness has beamed with clear light around us, and has illumined the minds of the faithful. Today is Adam made anew and moves in the choir of angels, having winged his way to heaven. Today is the whole circle of the earth filled with joy, since the sojourn of the Holy Spirit has been realized to men. Today the grace of God and the hope of the unseen shine through all wonders transcending imagination, and make the mystery that was kept hidden from eternity plainly discernible to us. Today are woven the wreathes of never-fading virtue. Today, God, who is willing to crown the sacred heads of those whose pleasure is to hearken to Him and who delight in His festivals, invites the lovers of unswerving faith as His called and His heirs. The heavenly kingdom is urgent to summon those who mind heavenly things to join the divine service of the incorporeal choirs. Today is fulfilled the word of David, 'Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes' (Ps 96:11-13). David thus made mention of the trees; and the Lord's forerunner also spoke of them as trees that should 'bear fruit in keeping with repentance' (Mt 3:8) for the coming of the Lord. But our Lord Jesus Christ promises perpetual gladness to all those who believe in Him. For He says, 'I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you' (Jn 16:22). Today is the illustrious and ineffable mystery of Christians, who have piously set their hope like a seal upon Christ, plainly declared to us. Today Gabriel, who stands by God, came to the pure virgin, bearing to her the glad annunciation, 'Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you' (Lk 1:28)." 
 
Gregory Thaumaturgus, First Homily on the Annunciation, 1
 

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You became incarnate of Mary when the angel delivered Your divine Word to her. Grant that You might be among us once again when the messengers You send deliver that message of life to us. Amen.

 

For Jim Jeffers who is undergoing surgery, that the Lord would be with him and bring healing

 

For Pastor Victor Atsinger, that the Lord would bring him strength through His Word and that the Lord would be with him as he undergoes medical assessment

 

For Pastor Charles St-Onge, as he prepares to travel to Asia to begin his work as a missionary, that the Lord would be with him and grant him safe travels
 
Correction: the last petition on 31 December should have read, For Wayne Murray as he undergoes surgery tomorrow, that the Lord would guide and guard the hand of the surgeon and grant healing to His servant

Art: CORREGGIO Nativity Holy Night (1528-30)

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