December 23, 2007 - Fourth Sunday in Advent - RORATE COELI

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 43:25-44:20; Revelation 11:1-19

This Week's Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 1:39-56

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.” (Luke 1:46b-47)

If your pastor is like me at all, he has shown you a thing or two from the Lutheran Confessions. I know, most adults think that book is too far over your heads, too theological, can't speak your language. I beg to differ. Since we're all sinners, it speaks your language, too. It has something to say to everyone, regardless of age, such as this: “The service and worship of the Gospel is to receive good things from God, while the worship of the law is to offer and present our goods to God.” (Apology IV, Tappert, pg. 155)

Wow. How helpful! The world, because it treasures the law more than the gospel, wants to sing about what's in us, in our hearts, how mighty and exalted we are by our own devotion, love and good works — as if that were the worship that now pleases God, since the birth of His Son. No. That's just the worship and music of the law. As if that could save us! Thank God, Mary does not do that. For our good, she worships and sings about what is in God's heart, what God has now placed in her womb. And what a song that is! What worship!

For what is in her womb tells her not to trust what is in her heart. What is in her heart, like ours, is sin (Matthew 15:19; Romans 7:18; Jeremiah 17:9). There's no salvation, no song that lasts there. But what is in her womb! In her womb is mercy from God's heart that brings us forgiveness, mercy that saves us from all the threats and demands of the law. And, according to Mary's lasting song, it can only be explained this way: “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers. ”

Here, then, is the worship that now pleases God: to receive and sing about Jesus, no longer located for us in Mary's womb, but now, located for us in Word, Washing and Supper — Who there regards your lowly state, exalts your lowliness, and fills you with good things — with all God's mercy.

The worship of the law bids you to deny this. Not so with the worship of the gospel. If you are hungry or lowly, forget your goods. God's goods –– what He now magnifies for you in the church's womb, in Word, Font, and Altar — please Him. Fear God? Good. Tomorrow night, in Word and Supper, the angels will say: Fear not, a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord!