Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation of Our Lord

The Annunciation of Our Lord
Luke 1:26-38
Bror Erickson

[26] In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, [27] to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. [28] And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" [29] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. [30] And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. [32] 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, [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
[34] And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"
[35] 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. [36] 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. [37] For nothing will be impossible with God." [38] 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. Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)

The Annunciation of Our Lord, Mary hears the good news. Mary hears the Gospel first. Mary is told that she is carrying the Gospel.
We don’t often celebrate these festivals that fall in the middle of the week. The Church year is full of obscure little festivals that happen between Sundays. We could have one or two services a week celebrating these things if we wanted. Sometimes I think that might be kind of fun to try for a year. But today is the Annunciation of our Lord. The Gospel is announced, Mary is carrying the Messiah.
Actually this day and Christmas are intertwined. They are nine months apart, and the 25th. WE know that The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in the Sixth month. Somehow in the Jewish calendar that ends up being Nissan, which is also the first month of the year depending on where you start, and for what reasons. Tell you the truth t gets confusing. But it is also about this time that they would have had the Passover, which also changes from year to year as to specific date, and had even more fluctuation at the time of Christ as it was in part based on when the barley was ripe, and in part based on the equinox. Then there is the pagan myth thrown in that a man dies on the same day that he was conceived. So you have him conceived now, around the time of the Passover when he died, and nine months later you have December 25 and the Gospel is born. Just some interesting Christian trivia for you. So now you know that it really isn’t about celebrating the winter Solstice as enthusiasts of Dan Brown and other dimwitted conspiracy theorists would have you believe. There is a day I will never get back, the one reading that stupid book. And people take him seriously.

It is a great little text. The Angel Gabriel shows up and greets Mary, troubling her by saying, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.” She doesn’t know what to make of this because it isn’t the normal greeting, “hi, how are you.” It wasn’t meant to be. Gabriel meant quite literally that the Lord was with her, as in you are with child, and it is the Lord. Not a mere the Lord is on your side. Rather, Gabriel is telling her that she is the Theotokus, the bearer of God. I just love that term. Mary is to give birth to the God that created her. Now that is awesome! That is the meaning of the term, God bearer, one who bears God, to give birth to Him.
Gabriel explains this. You will conceive in your womb, and bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus (Joshua, or the Lord saves!) 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.”
Now that is a mouth full. There is so much to unpack in these few verses, you could write a book on it. Mary is going to conceive in her womb. That is her flesh is going to give birth to flesh, and her seed will be a Son, who will be named the Lord saves! She doesn’t get to name him. He is named by the angel, and he will do what his name says, his name comes true in Him, He saves. He will be called the Son of the Most High. That is He will be the begotten of the Most High, He is the Son of God. That is He is God. For God begets God, even as flesh gives birth to flesh. God assumes the Flesh of man in the womb of Mary. And why?
So that the Lord God can give to him the throne of his father David, so that the Son of David, (That is as the son of Joseph his guardian who is of the house of David) the promise to David that his seed will reign on David’s Throne forever: “from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. [12] When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. [13] He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. “ (2 Samuel 7:11-13 (ESV)
Now David’s throne had for a long time slipped into obscurity. Herod was not of David or the house of David. But there had been this promise made. And people always thought of it as pertaining to this world. But if it pertained to this world it could not possibly be true, because this world is going to pass away.
[25] Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
[26] They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
[27] but you are the same, and your years have no end.
[28] The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.
Psalm 102:25-28 (ESV)
But that didn’t stop people from thinking in earthly terms. And the truth of it is that people still think in earthly terms, when it comes to this. Jesus is not setting up an earthly kingdom. There is no millennial reign of Christ on earth. Modern day Israel and the fight with the Palestinians have nothing to do with Old Testament Prophecies, or New Testament prophecies for that matter. This is nothing but Jewish Myths concerning the messiah that have no basis in the Bible. The Kingdom of which Gabriel speaks is not an earthly kingdom, Because of the kingdom of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, and son of David, there is no end. There will be no end.
This kingdom is the church. He rules it with grace, and forgiveness. It will not pass away. This Church stands forever. It has its beginning on earth when the Gospel the good news of Jesus Christ, God born in Flesh as the final sacrifice for the sins of man, is heard. This kingdom has an earthly contingent. It is the church on earth. This earthly contingent is made up of all those who hear the voice of the shepherd and listen to him. That is those who hear the Gospel and believe it. It is not synonymous with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod or any other denomination or earthly institution. But all who have heard this Gospel that Gabriel has announced to Mary today, and who believe that this child whom Mary gave birth to is God, and always has been God, is the same God that Created Mary, and understand that this God died for them in Christ, and has forgiven their sin, and saved them from death, these are citizens of God’s eternal kingdom. Therefore they are given eternal life. This kingdom even now has its existence in eternity, in heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father.
Now Mary is confused. She hasn’t known a man. She is a virgin, betrothed to Joseph, but the marriage has not yet been consummated. By the way, she didn’t remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus. Had she done that she would be the poorest example of a Christian wife, and there ever could have been. Men don’t get married so they can continue to be celibate. Men get married because they have needs, and tend to become somewhat neurotic when they aren’t met. A loving wife strives to meet those needs. There is no reason to believe that Mary neglected the duties of a loving Christian wife towards Joseph after giving birth to Jesus. In fact being as Jesus has brothers, there is every reason to believe that she was very faithful to Joseph in this manner. A good and chaste Christian wife is one who knows her husband, and knows him often. But being as she is the only Virgin in recorded history to ever have given birth, I think Virgin is an apt title for Mary. But being a virgin she is confused as to how it is she is going to give birth. She isn’t so na├»ve as to believe in storks and cabbage patches.
And the answer here is quite important. Gabriel tells her exactly how it is going to happen. The only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, is going to be conceived in the Virgin Mary by the work of the Holy Spirit. I say this is important. Here in Mormon land it is important to know. Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God that means God is not on the planet Kolb begetting spirit Children to be implanted and aborted in the wombs of crack whores on State Street. Johns are begetting those children, not God. Jesus is THE SON OF THE MOST HIGH. The means the only one. The, the definite article, designates one, and only one. He is conceived by the Holy Spirit. This means Mary did not give up her virginity to God the father in human form. God did not take on human form and seduce Mary, in the manner of Zeus coming down from Mt. Olympus as a white cow, or Swan, or whatever to have his way with Europa. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. Begotten of the Father, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. And in this God became man, assumed our flesh, so that he could die in our place, be the perfect atoning sacrifice, and forgive us our sins.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


Nancy said...

I think many times we miss the significance of the begetting. And, that this begetting is of the Holy Spirit...the only way a spiritual child of God can in fact be born...or in our case...born again. Of God's choosing alone, for God chose Mary...she did not choose Him.

Bror Erickson said...

Begotten of Father, conceived of the Holy Spirit, Born of the virgin Mary. We ought not get the terms and persons confused.
As the poem says begotten without a mother, conceived with out a father.

Nancy said...

Ok...give us the poem...*: )

Bror Erickson said...

You can find the poem at Cwirla's site, on my blog roll. Look up Annunciation