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Luke 1:26-38

 

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." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (ESV)

 

 

Today and Every Day

Wednesday After the Epiphany of our Lord

8 January 2014

I was shocked when a talk radio host in Houston crabbed because there was still Christmas music being piped into the elevator of his radio station's office building on the "Friday after New Year." "Isn't Christmas over?" he asked presuming he was asking a rhetorical question. "Of course, Christmas must be over. New Year Day was two days ago!" Uh, not so fast. (Why do talk show hosts get to crab about things they know nothing about on the public airwaves? Come to think of it, right now maybe you are wondering the same thing about me!) I did wonder how someone who pays attention to piped in Christmas music could have missed the fact that Christmas is a season of twelve days. We have been assaulted by a hundred different perversions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" every day since Halloween. So at the very least Christmas consists of twelve days and lasts from 25 December through 5 January. It also gets a little seasonal extension through Epiphany that lasts from 6 January until Ash Wednesday (this year: 5 March), or at least until the Presentation of our Lord at the temple on 2 February.

 

But this is the least of it. The church's calendar is not anniversarial, in other words, the days and seasons of the feast days and commemorations are not celebrated to remind us that Jesus was born on 25 December 2018 years ago. This is what is ridiculous about the complaint of some heretical religious organizations that there is no way that 25 December could possibly have been the "birthday" of Jesus. While there may be a good chance that this would be the case, it really isn't the point of the Christian celebration of Christmas. Nor are we celebrating Christmas for the sake of Jesus, as we would be when celebrating the birthday of one of our own children. The incarnation is "for us," not for Him. The celebration is ours, not for Him. What this means, though, is that the incarnation is not able to be confined to a day or a season, no matter how long we might think that season should be celebrated. That the Word became flesh is the towering fact of our salvation not merely the excuse for celebratory excess. The incarnation spans both the centuries of the millennia and the days and seasons of our years, without being confined to or restrained by our rules about dates and times.

 

That the Word became flesh changes everything about everything every day. God has condescended to suit up with us, so to speak, and play the game on our turf, without using His divine powers or prerogatives. He leaves us in no doubt as to our value to our Creator. Just as He formed Adam with loving caresses from the dust of the ground, so He sees to the incarnation of His Son by the special overshadowing of Mary, His mother. He who has the power to send His Son into the world by divine fiat declined to do so. Our heavenly father is not a teenager seeking the easiest way out of a dilemma. No, He chooses the hardest way, the most painful way, carrying that incarnate flesh to Calvary's cross for us men and for our salvation. Therefore, the church isn't just blowing smoke when she makes the claim that the incarnation changes everything about everything every day. Matthew Parris, an avowed atheist, wrote: "Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good." Parris had better beware or he will be kicked out of the atheist's club and his atheist pals will no longer give him the secret atheist handshake. Of course, he is right. And even if he doesn't know why, he is right because the Word became flesh. That's true today and every day.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"If only a mere man was to be born of a pure virgin why should there be such careful mention of the divine arrival? Why such intervention of divinity itself? Certainly if only a man was to be born from man, and flesh from flesh, a command alone might have done it, or the divine will. For if the will of God alone, and His command sufficed to fashion the heavens, form the earth, create the sea, thrones, and seats, and angels, and archangels, and principalities, and powers, and in a word to create all the armies of heaven, and those countless thousands of thousands of the Divine hosts, 'For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm' (Ps 33:9), why was it that that was insufficient for the creation of (according to the Nestorians) a single man, which was sufficient for the production of all things divine, and that the power and majesty of God did not entrust that will with the birth of a single infant, which had sufficed to fashion all things earthly and heavenly? But certainly the reason why all those works were performed by the command of God, but the nativity was only accomplished by His coming was because God could not be conceived by man unless He allowed it, nor be born unless He Himself entered in. Therefore the archangel pointed out that the holy Majesty would come upon the Virgin. Because so great an event could not be brought about by human appointment, the archangel announced that there would be present at the conception the glory of Him who was to be born. So the Word, the Son, descended. The majesty of the Holy Spirit was present. The power of the Father was overshadowing that in the mystery of the holy conception the whole Trinity might cooperate. He says, 'Therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God' (Lk 1:35). Rightly does he add 'Therefore,' in order to show that this would therefore follow because that had gone before; and that because God had come upon her at the conception therefore God would be present at the birth.

 

"When the maiden did not understand, he gave a reason for this great thing, saying: 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God' (Lk 1:35), that is to say: That you might not be ignorant of the provision for so great a work, and the mystery of this great secret, the majesty of God shall therefore come upon you completely, because the Son of God shall be born of you. What further doubt can there be about this? What further is to be said? He said that God would come upon her; that the Son of God would be born. Ask now, if you like, how the Son of God can help being God, or how she who brought forth God can fail to be Theotokos, the Mother of God? This alone ought to be enough."

 

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, begotten of the Father from eternity and born of the Virgin Mary, You have become my Lord by buying me back from sin, death, and the devil with your holy and precious blood. Grant me grace that I might live with You in Your kingdom and serve you in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Amen.

                                             

For Wayne Galler, that God would give him the strength to face each day

 

For Molly Salazar, that the Lord Jesus would grant her healing

 

For the Luther Academy, that the Lord would provide the support necessary to continue expanding confessional Lutheranism throughout the world

 

For all those struggling with the world's ideals and prohibitions by subjecting themselves to humiliating weight loss programs and cosmetic procedures, that they might find peace in Christ

Art: CORREGGIO Nativity Holy Night (1528-30)

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