Friday, December 16, 2011

Sermon December 17 - 18, 2011

Title: God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

Text: Luke 1:31-33

31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He 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, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 

The violinist Fritz Kreisler’s extraordinary talent manifested itself when he was only 4, and it was carefully fostered by his father. Born in 1875, he entered the Vienna Conservatory at 7, gave his first performance at 9 and was awarded its gold medal at 10. 

He went on to have an illustrious career, making his U.S. debut in 1888 and playing concerts throughout the world until his retirement from active performance in 1950 living the remainder of his life in New York City, until his death at 87 in 1962. 

Countless violin recitals occur in this country each year by students of all ages. Some great, some good, some not so good; we at times are blessed to attend and hear the very best of this God given talent and at other times must endure that which leaves much to be desired - the ordinary and the extraordinary. 

Our God uses both in His activity throughout human history. The simple act of a woman and a pregnancy, but in this case, this common activity of daily life will occur without the involvement of an earthly father. The significance of this birth will, from its humble beginnings, be recognized as the single most important action of God since He created the heavens and the earth. 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

26In 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. 

Just prior to this section of scripture we are told the story of Zechariah and
Elizabeth and how the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah with the promise that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son in her old age. It concludes with: 

24After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, 

So, Gabriel, is here in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, sent by God to proclaim the Good News to Mary that she has been chosen by God to bring forth the culmination of all human history spoken of by the prophets, that God would send a Messiah to redeem His people. And here, in the presence of this young virgin an angel appears: 

28And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" 

A joyful salutation to be sure, The Lord is with you! Mary however is greatly troubled at the saying and wonders what kind of greeting this might be? Gabriel, sensing her concern responds: 

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He 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, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 

Well, that clears that up. You’ll have a son, name him Jesus. Oh, and he’ll be God’s son too and sit on David’s throne and reign forever and His Kingdom with have … no … end! 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

God, in his word through the angel Gabriel brings Good News to Mary. He brings comfort too. She will be the mother of God. All, the angels in heaven are rejoicing at this blessed good news as the seed of woman, Jesus Christ, who is “very God of very God” becomes “incarnate by the Holy Spirit” and will be “born of the Virgin Mary” and forever be God and man joined together in the God/man Jesus Christ who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world, for you. 

Mary’s question is profound having a depth of meaning of great and broad significance: 34And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" Not, questioning what the angel said or asking why but knowing that God’s profound action is required for this to come to pass and simply asking how? 

35And 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. 

This Virgin, by the power of the Holy Spirit will bring God’s mystery … that He will join human flesh to Himself to save us and bring about… 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

But, do you believe it? Do you live it? Are you so consumed with the worries of this world that you fail to be freed to rest in Christ’s saving work? 

The truth is we all fail to rest in Christ’s work because we fail to be in His word. The word of God which brings both - despair over our sin and the comfort that in Christ we have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. 

Paul in our epistle lesson today tells us: 
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith. 

Faith … brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit through the prophetic writings and being made known by the preaching of Jesus Christ. This preaching and teaching will cause you to look at your sin, to be brought to the realization that you fail to meet God’s requirements and to see that Jesus Christ has met the requirements - for you … and that on account of His obedience to the Law, you have been given: 
God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

Our Gospel lesson concludes with: 

37For nothing will be impossible with God." 38And 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. 
God according to His word “was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man!” God in His omnipotence, having all power and being all powerful, humbled Himself to the place of a servant and came as the babe of
Bethlehem, for you. 

He suffered the scorn and rejection of this world to be born in a manger and to go to the cross, for you and for me. This is the Good News of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary that God world enter the world to set His people free from their sin and to proclaim peace. 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

Fritz Kreisler the world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn't able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase the beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. 

Kreisler made his way to the new owner's home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. 

Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector's emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It's yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it." 
Our Daily Bread February 4, 1994 

May we also, by the power of the Holy Spirit take the message of the baby King who came to live , suffer, die and rise again for you into all the world so that: 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, will by the Holy Spirit, be the blessed good news that every one hears! 

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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