Messy and Majestic
Wednesday of Advent 2
12 December 2018
The stuff of normal human life is messy. Even when surrounded by the modern conveniences of hospital birthing rooms and disposable diapers, childbirth and child rearing are full of blood and tears, disturbed sleep and dirty diapers. The birthing and care of a newborn is not an activity for those who do not want to get their hands dirty in the detritus of normal human life. A newborn is messy, noisy, and inconvenient.
Given these basic facts of life, it is no surprise that the human mind has difficulty grasping that the eternal Son of the Father became one of these messy, noisy, and inconvenient creatures. How can we get our hands around that the majesty of God is cradled in the hands of Mary, His little mother? How can we drink in the sight of His suckling at His mother's breast? How can we experience the incense-surrounded presence of God when we get a whiff that His diaper needs to be changed? Could a God who is willing to abase Himself by taking human flesh in this way be worthy of our worship?
God does not leave Himself without witnesses of His majesty in the circumstances of the conception and birth of His Son by Mary. Connected with each of the signs of His weakness are signs of His glory. An Archangel visits the peasant mother and she is left with no doubt whatever that the One who was conceived in her should be the divine Savior promised. Her conceiving takes place through the overshadowing power of God the Holy Spirit and yet after she remains the same little peasant girl, only now pregnant. Even dear Joseph is shocked by her pregnancy. But the Lord once again with the visitation of the Archangel interprets through the Word what Joseph cannot believe with his eyes. God our heavenly Father has not left himself without witnesses to the glory of His Son even in the midst of the weak signs of His conception and birth. In faith, let us see them for what they are and confess the One conceived of Mary to be God of God and of one substance with His Father.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Hilary of Poitiers
"Lest fastidious minds be disturbed by cradle and wailing, birth and conception, we must render to God the glory that each of these contains, that we may approach His self-abasement with souls duly filled with His claim to reign, and not forget His majesty in His condescension. Let us note, therefore, who were attendant on His conception [as a sign of His glory]. An angel speaks to Zechariah (Lk 1:11). Fertility is given to the barren (Lk 1:7). The priest comes forth dumb from the place of incense (Lk 1:22). John bursts forth into speech while yet confined within his mother's womb (Lk 1:41). An angel blesses Mary and promises that she, a virgin, shall be the mother of the Son of God (Lk 1:30-32). Conscious of her virginity, she is distressed at this hard thing; the Angel explains to her the mighty working of God, saying, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you' (Lk 1:35). The Holy Spirit, descending from above, hallowed the Virgin's womb, and breathing therein ('The wind blows where it wishes' [Jn 3:8]), united Himself with the fleshly nature of man, and annexed by force and might that foreign domain. And, lest through weakness of the human structure failure should ensue, the power of the Most High overshadowed the Virgin, strengthening her feebleness in semblance of a cloud cast round her, that the shadow, which was the might of God, might fortify her bodily frame to receive the procreative power of the Spirit. Such is the glory of the conception."

 Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 2.26
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)
O Christ, strengthen our feebleness with the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, that surrounded by the cloud of Your presence we might see Your Son born of Mary as true God begotten of You from eternity. Amen.
For all organizations that care for the homeless, that they would be strengthened in their service and supported by the community
For all those struggling with the false expectations of the world's "holiday season," that they might find peace that surpasses human understanding in the baby born in Bethlehem
For those whose faith has grown cold, that the Holy Spirit might lead them again into the outstretched arms of the Savior born of Mary
Art: Raffaellino dell Garbo  The Annunciation (c. 1510)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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