Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Better late than never" and a Lesson from the Magnificat

I just got caught up on posting my Advent sermons - from 2011.  As of now, I have 531 sermons posted here on FH.  I am actually only lacking my earliest sermons from vicarage - and I'll get those caught up when I get the proverbial "round tuit."  But I'm really pleased to be caught up to this point.

This is one of those lingering "to dos" that I can now scratch off on the old Moleskine!

Anyway, in last year's Rorate Coeli (Advent 4) sermon, I made an observation about the Blessed Virgin Mary and how Protestants and Catholics squabble over her significance to the Christian faith.  I believe that this matter ought to be put to rest by the Blessed Virgin's own words in the Magnificat - which are God's Words as recorded by the holy evangelist St. Luke (1:46-55).

Here is an except...

There is a belief about Christianity among the unbelievers in Christianity that the first Christian was St. Paul.  What they mean by this is that Paul invented the Christian religion, that the Jesus he preached was not the “historical” Jesus, and that we are really more followers of Paul than of Christ.
This is an interesting theory that awkwardly tries to explain the origin of Christianity.  But if we believe Christianity is true, the question of who is the first Christian becomes interesting.  Some might argue that the first disciple, St. Andrew, was the first Christian.  Others might say that Abraham, as the first man called by God under the old covenant would be the first Christian.  We could even argue that Adam was the first Christian, the first to see God face to face.
It all depends on how you want to define “Christian.” 
The Blessed Virgin Mary was the first human being to be in the physical presence of the fleshly incarnate Jesus, and immediately, she confesses Him as both God and Savior.  In that sense, Mary is the first Christian.  She is not only the beloved mother of Jesus, but also the beloved elder sister of every Christian.  And this young girl, a lay person: not a rabbi or a priest, not an apostle or a pastor, not a deaconess or a professional church worker – blazes a trail for all Christians in confessing the Christ within her very body: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 
“God my Savior.” 
Dear friends, this confession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of God, is the beating heart of the Christian faith.  For the Christ child within her is not only a savior, a prophet, a deliverer like Moses – but He is also God.  And equally important, she is not merely worshiping a God who is afar off, but a God who has come into space and time, becoming an embryo within the womb of His mother – even as have been every one of billions of human beings ever born (with the exceptions of Adam and Eve). 
And notice also that the Blessed Virgin confesses Jesus as not only “God” and as “Savior” – but also as “My.”  For even the devil has to confess the truth that Jesus is God and that He is a Savior.  But Christians also confess the “my” part.  Mary’s threefold confession is a complete confession of Christ: Almighty God, humble human being, our Savior. 
This “first Christian” is utterly unique in all of human history.  For she is indeed as we confess in our Lutheran confessions and with the Church of every age: “holy” and “pure.”  She is the mother of God.  And yet she too needs a “Savior” – a rescuer from sin.  Mary is pure because Jesus has made her so.  Jesus is born because He came to our world through His mother.  God created Mary, the God the Father called Mary, God the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary with His presence, and Mary conceived God the Son within her womb.  And from this created creature emerges the uncreated Creator.  From one descended from sin comes One who is sinless.  The tiny embryonic Christ child conceived miraculously within the virgin is also the Savior of the Virgin who created for Himself a pure portal into our impure world. 
Christians sometimes squabble over how this can be.  Such arguments happen when fallen man attempts to impose reason on a miracle.  Was Mary conceived without sin?  God did not reveal this to us to be either true or false.  He did something to protect His Son from inherited sin – beyond that, God is silent.  But we know this much: Mary calls her Son her Savior, and Jesus was born of a pure womb.  Rather than argue over dogma, we Christians, like the first Christian herself, would do well to fight less and rejoice more!

"Fight less, rejoice more."  That might be a good New Year's Resolution for each and every member of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as a witness to this conflicted world.

!שלום   Pax!   !سلام  ειρήνη!  Frieden!  Paix!  ¡Paz!  Мир!  Peace!

No comments: