Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on Wednesday in the Third Week of Advent, 12/14/2022. The order of service was Evening Prayer from LSB, and the following hymns were sung:
When All the World Was Cursed, LSB 346
My Soul Rejoices, LSB 933
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for the Wednesday services in Advent, click here.
Christmas is near, and the Pastor has lost his voice… In fact, Pastor Zechariah hasn’t said a word all Advent.
God is not a huge fan of silence. There are times when it can be profitable, and there are times when He makes use of it. Thus, Zechariah has received silence as a chastisement.
But mostly, God likes to fill the world with sound. And perhaps this is why He chose sound, i.e. His voice, to create and fill the world in the first place.
Sometimes God does this in obviously miraculous ways: a voice from the clouds, or a great rushing wind. But most often He does it in remarkably ordinary ways: a pastor with a busted voice; a child with an innocent observation; or tonight, a young, pregnant mommy.
Mary has gone with haste, and its no wonder why. Gabriel told her that her aged relative Elizabeth was six months along. So, there’s lots to talk about. Blessed babies, scary angels, swollen legs, and cravings for pickles.
But there’s plenty of time for that. The first thing to break the silence is the sound of Mary’s greeting. Maybe it was the greeting she learned from Gabriel, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.”
We’re not told, of course; but it makes sense. For part of Elizabeth’s reply shows that this is exactly the case.
And why is it granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? verse 43
Standing in the presence of her Lord, Elizabeth considers herself to be a fellow blessed one, even favored, for the Lord is with her, too.
I know the translation says that Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry,” but a better translation might be that she “intoned with a loud cry.”
It doesn’t sound like a song to us. It looks a lot like two women just talking. But this holy conversation is one of praise to God, for all the things He has filled with His Word:
Mary’s song, likewise, praises God for all He has done; not just for her and to her; but for you and to you.
For the manger, the cross, and the tomb, these things God would fill with His Son. But then He would empty them. For if these things remained full, you would remain empty.
But Mary’s Son is raised from the dead. God has helped His servant Israel, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his offspring forever.
You have received all that Mary, Elizabeth, John, and all the saints have hoped for. You, dear Christians, have leaped for joy in the womb, in the font of Holy Baptism, where you were visited by the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit.
The world may frequently seem empty of joy and love, but full of the scattered proud; and so, it may be.
But you are part of God’s answer to that. You who have been filled with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Word of God at font, pulpit, and altar… You are God’s way of filling in whatever is empty and silent.
In your care for the pregnant woman who just needs an extra hand. In your rejoicing despite the temptation to lament. In your words that send forth God’s Word. Not just for a moment, but for as long as it takes…
It’s the easiest verse to slide past:
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. verse 56
All that to say, “stay awhile.” With your friends and loved ones who are hurting. With those who need you, and those who are figuring out that they need you. With those who are empty and don’t even know it.
You may have Magnificent moments of praise and revelation and thanksgiving. Mrs. Hopkins’ friend Emily, for example, was baptized yesterday, after 30-something years of prayer and witness. And thanks be to God for that.
As we await the final fulfillment of all that has been spoken to us from the Lord, may we remain faithful friends and family; constantly being filled with God’s Word, and magnifying Him before the world.