Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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For Us, With Us, In Us


Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

On this the fourth and last Sunday in Advent, our text of meditation today centers on the beginning of the earthly life of Jesus, God in the flesh, through the eyes of Mary, His mother. As we look at the biblical record may we listen to and think upon this portion of God's plan of redeeming us as fallen and lost sinners. We begin with the visit of the messenger from God's throne, the angel Gabriel who visits a young Jewish maiden who is identified as Mary and of whom it is said that she has not had sexual intercourse with a male. She was engaged to Joseph, her future husband, but was living in the time of engagement during which preparations were being made for the marriage and they were not to come together in the physical act of love which was to be consummated after the wedding. It is unknown as to the age of Mary, but it has been thought to be somewhere between 12 to 18.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail,(Rejoice) thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Mary is told to rejoice. In our familiar King James English, we use the word, "Hail", which to us can sound something like, "Howdy" or "Hello". That does not give us the sense of the meaning that the angel Gabriel is bringing forth, for he is not coming to her with just any kind of ordinary information, but he comes with an announcement that is super extraordinary! He tells her to "Rejoice!" for she is highly favored, the Lord is with her and that she is highly favored among woman. She is being told that God is gracious to her and that she is a recipient of God's favor, and not necessarily a dispenser of God's favor. Even though through her womb, God was born into this world, nevertheless it must be made clear that from the biblical record she was a woman like any other woman and she was the means by which God chose to bring Himself into this world to be born in the likeness of humans.

Naturally at this news, Mary was troubled, for 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind (reasoned, wondered) what manner of salutation this should be, to which Gabriel responded to her with this assurance:

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

She was told not to fear, for God has found favour with her. In other words, God decided to act graciously toward her, not because anything she was or had done, but because that is what He wanted to do. Mary, having been told that she had found grace/favor in the sight of the Lord, now was told some astounding news: She would become pregnant, would have a son and she would name Him Jesus. (Jehovah is salvation) While she pondered that, the angel went onto say that He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David! Furthermore, she was told that he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

The angel, having opened the extraordinary meeting with a greeting of "rejoice," and relaying the message that she is favored/chosen of God for His use, now refers back to the Scriptures as they had them at that time. There is a clear reference to 2 Samuel 7

KJV 2 Samuel 7:11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. 12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

The kingdom of David was a golden age for the people of God around 1000 years before Jesus was born, but it had diminished since that time, but nevertheless David's kingdom was a shadow of the Coming Kingdom of the Messiah. We do not know how much Mary understood of this prophecy, but from the sayings and references of Jesus in the New Testament we know that when He was referred to as the son of David that there was an understanding that this was a reference to the Promised Messiah. That we see in the very first verse of the Gospel of Matthew.

KJV Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

KJV Matthew 21:9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

KJV Matthew 22:42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

KJV Mark 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.


Mary then asked the obvious question and is given the answer.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

We can wonder that at this time did a previous situation run through Mary's mind, of other women in God's plan who had been used by Him to bring forth this day. Did she remember the of another angels visit to Sarah, the wife of Abraham?

Genesis 18:10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

That we do not know, but we do know that the angel did give her the knowledge of how God had brought about the pregnancy of her cousin Elizabeth, who was the mother of John the Baptizer:

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Mary was presented with the experience of her cousin who was a woman past child bearing age, even as Sarah had been. As we think on what she must have thought at this astounding news that her barren cousin was pregnant, and not having any way of knowing the hows of the pregnancy, she was then told in statement form

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Mary responded in faith, saying in so many words, "Lord, I accept this favor that you are showing me, I understand that it is solely because you wanted to use me for your gracious purposes that I have been chosen, so therefore I am your servant, do what you want with me."

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

The bibical account of the conception of Jesus is straight forward and clear. God chose to bring Himself into this world through Mary's womb without the help of any human father. We confess that truth when we recite the Apostles Creed together each time we prepare to eat of the Body and drink of His Blood in His Supper. We believe that to be true, we teach it as truth and we live in the reality of that truth. Mary's response of faith is an example to all of us here today, in that when God, speaking through the angel Gabriel, told her that with Him nothing will be impossible, she believed that which had been spoken of her. Did she at the moment conceive when she said those words? What do you think?

Let us consider this teaching today as to how it may relate to us in our lives. The two main points I would think would be about sticking with the biblical record concerning the virgin birth of Jesus and of the necessity of faith to believe this which God has through the Holy Spirit moved men to write. In this we would be warned against being influenced by either ignorance of the Scriptures or of using extra biblical sources/traditions in order to form our convictions of who God is, what God does and what God will do. By faith we consider what God says in His written Word, therefore we believe that He is for us, He is with Us and He is in us. He comes to us through the Sacrament of His Supper. In that sense we experience His Presence through the knowledge that He is for us, He is with us and He is in us. Not just in me, but in us. Consider the following:

God has always been for us, and He came to us so that He could join Himself unto human as the last Adam. In the Lord's Supper, we experience this union in a physical manner as we kneel together, but not only in that manner. For we are united with Him and in Him each time we partake of His Body and Blood also through faith. We are not going up the the Communion rail as individuals, but as the Body of Christ and as we physically partake of Him, we are encouraged and strengthened in this knowledge. We are reminded the Body of Jesus Christ is one, and that it is made up of all those who are by faith united into this Body of Jesus. Whether one is yet living here on earth or has been translated to the final kingdom in heaven, does not affect the reality that when the Lord communes with us we are also communing with those who are now absent from the body and present with the Lord. So for Doris whose husband died physically last week, we are able to understand that even though there is no visible or physical presence of Kenny, yet because Kenny lives in the presence of Christ, we along with Doris have the understanding that we are yet in Holy Communion in the Body of Jesus Christ, which includes all those who have been received into heaven. There is never a separation in the spiritual sense, but at the time of our coming together at the Lord's Table, we experience a closer intimacy with all those within the Body of Jesus Christ.

As we move from the Word to Sacrament today, before we do I want to share a recent experience that I had concerning the meaning and power of the Sacrament, the Lord's Supper. Over the years the Lord has opened up to me more of the meaning and of the power of eating and drinking of the Body and Blood of the Lord. As I have listened to people talk of their experience, I have kind of gathered that many share my thoughts in that they long for a deeper understanding as well as experience concerning the Lord's Supper. In light of this, I have chosen to share my recent experience, but with the caution that I realize that this is my experience alone and in sharing it I do not wish to give the impression that this is some kind of a pattern for others to follow. Please understand that as you read the following accounts.


Recently on Sunday morning as I struggled in the hospital with the waiting and the uncertainty of recovery/surgery, I found out that there was a chapel service in the hospital. At this time, I just wanted to go to be near the Word of the Lord, hoping for some encouragement from Him. I asked the nurse if it would be okay if I went there and she said, yes, and so she made the provisions for me I drug my iv holder with me and went into the balcony of the chapel where one could look down upon the chapel service. Even though I should have known it, I was surprised to see the beautiful altar with all its symbolism and quickly realized that I was attending a Catholic Mass. I was all right with that and found myself enjoying the Word as it was presented in song and in Word in mostly a liturgical fashion.
As I stumbled around their worship book to keep up with the different liturgies and responses, I soon lost my place and chose to merely listen and observe. Soon the service began to change to the Eucharist (Thanksgiving) part of the service and I watched in wonder at all the preparations that were made for the dispensing of the body and blood of our Lord and Savior. I soon found myself forgetting about everything else which I was seeing done in preparation for the Eucharist, being drawn into the mystery of how Jesus was going to be present in the elements and would be given to all who would receive. Never being in a Eucharist service before, I was torn between staying and partaking of the mystery and leaving, and soon I found myself shuffling out into the hallway to go back to my room. But I did not get very far and Martin Luther's words came back to me that it is not the server that affects the efficacy of the Sacrament, for it is the Body and Blood of Christ and stands that way inspite of and without human hands!! Period.
Even yet struggling with the Roman view of Transubstantiation, I hesitated, but then turned and went back into the balcony which was now deserted except for the hospital chaplain who asked me if I wished to receive the Sacrament of our Lord. I said, yes, I do, for I need the help of the Lord. She called for a person to come up to the balcony who served me, and as he did, a great sense of joy of the Presence of Christ filled my soul to joy and rejoicing that I will not soon forget. I cannot describe it very well, but it was not like a shot of happiness, instead it was a deep sense of gratitude for His suffering and death in my place and in coming to me at that moment, He communicated to me that He shares both His death and life with me now and forever! And the part that really opened up to me at that time was that He did it joyfully! I wept much at that revelation and His strength began to be my strength that time on.

So that is what I wanted to share. He is so good to us, to come to join Himself to us so that we might be partakers of His joy!!

May the joy of the Lord be your strength today in Christ Jesus!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 18 Dec 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Help is on the way Isaiah 40.1.11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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