St. Paul’s Lutheran Church has made the difficult decision to pause our in-person Services until further notice. The Lord bless you and keep you.


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Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 20, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Advent

Passage: Luke 1:26–1:38

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 1:26-38
Date: December 20, 2020; Advent 4; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • The angel Gabriel tells Mary that she has found great favour with God and that she will conceive and bear a son.
  • He tells her that she shall call his name Jesus, a name which means that he will be our deliverer.
  • He tells her that he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and that the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and that there will be no end to his kingdom.
  • In other words, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is going to be the mother of God, of the promised Messiah.
  • Mary responded, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
  • The angel Gabriel also shared with Mary the news that her elderly relative, Elizabeth, who was barren until this time - also has conceived a son.
  • Mary marvelled and wondered at these seemingly impossible things. 
  • But most of all she trusted the word and promises of God.
  • “…let it be to me according to your word.”
  • But then reality hit.
  • She was a pregnant, unwed, teenaged girl living in the small town of Nazareth.
  • Can you imagine the gossip?
  • It’s not much fun being gossiped about. To know that people are talking behind your back, saying unkind things about you.
  • I suppose that’s why they say these things behind your back.
  • Hey, did you hear about Mary?
  • Yeah! She’s pregnant and she’s not even married! And it’s not even Joseph’s!
  • Maybe a few crude jokes were cracked at Mary and Joseph’s expense.
  • Maybe a little pious moral judgement and a little arrogant self-righteous gloating over the apparent downfall of a teenage girl from a good, pious Jewish family.
  • Our sinful nature loves the juicy gossip - when we see the disgraceful sinful acts of someone else’s’ life get thrown out into the open – if for no other reason than to feel a little better about our own disgraceful sin.
  • The rumour mill is grinding in Nazareth and Mary is the talk of the town.
  • Understandably, Mary heads for the hill country to find her relative Elizabeth.
  • Maybe she could find some sanctuary from the judgemental looks and the hushed tones and giggles as she walks by in her hometown.
  • Sometimes it’s best to leave town for a while - and who else would be in a better place to understand than her cousin Elizabeth – who is six months into a rather unusual pregnancy herself?
  • This is the very essence of the Christmas mystery – a great and mighty wonder.
  • The Lord of the universe, the Word through whom all things were made, has a mother!
  • The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
  • The infinite and almighty Son of God takes up residence in the finite confines of a mother’s womb.
  • It’s a head scratcher. In fact, it blows your mind if you try to figure it out.
  • That’s why the Church for centuries has referred to the incarnation of our Lord as one of the great mysteries of the faith.
  • A mystery is not a secret. 
  • Once a secret becomes known it ceases to be a secret.
  • A mystery, on the other hand, will always remain a mystery because it is beyond human comprehension.
  • That Jesus is God in the flesh cannot be comprehended. It can only be believed.
  • Mary believed the Word of God, and in this way - she is a picture of every believer.
  • She hears the impossible Word from the angel Gabriel - that in her virginity she would conceive and bear a Son - who would be Immanuel, God with us. Who would save the world from sin and death. 
  • And she responds only as faith can respond to the impossible Word of God, “Amen, Let it be to me according to your Word.”
  • She hears the angel tell her that nothing will be impossible with God - and she believes it.
  • And that’s how it is with us. We too have found favour with God!
  • God says to us, “In this Son, Christ Jesus, you have forgiveness, hope, peace, and eternal life.”
  • And faith clings to this promise and simply says, “Yes. Amen. Let it be to me according to your Word.”
  • God says to us, “Through your Baptism you have new life. Your sins are washed away and forgiven. You receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. You are holy and righteous.”
  • And faith clings to this promise and simply says, “Yes. Amen. Let it be to me according to your Word.”
  • Christ says to us, “When a called and ordained servant of Christ forgives your sins - it is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if I dealt with your sin myself.”
  • And faith clings to this promise and simply says, “Yes. Amen. Let it be to me according to your Word.”
  • Jesus says to us, “This is my body given for you. This is my blood shed for you.”
  • And faith clings to this promise and simply says in the way of Mary, “Yes. Amen. Let it be to me according to your Word.”
  • With Mary, we hear the angel Gabriel say, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
  • A young woman conceives in her virginity.
  • God becomes one of us to save us.
  • Sinners are forgiven.
  • The dead are raised to eternal life.
  • With Mary we have found favour with God.
  • The mystery of the Gospel has been revealed to us.
  • The Holy Spirit has called us to bear Christ in faith - and we will live in his kingdom that has been made sure forever. 
  • To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Advent

December 16, 2020

Midweek Advent Service

December 13, 2020

Third Sunday in Advent

December 6, 2020

Second Sunday in Advent