Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Visitation

Two pregnant moms come together tonight. The Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth represents the Old Testament, she is an older woman at this point, and she carries John the Baptist in her womb. He will be the last prophet. The Old has passed and the new has come.  

Mary bears in her womb the New Testament. Just earlier she had asked the angel Gabriel how she could possibly be pregnant because she had never been with a man. But Holy Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived in her womb the very Son of God – the promised Messiah – who would usher a whole new world – a new creation.

After our first parents sinned – God’s promised a Savior. A Messiah was promised to Adam and Eve – the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head and restore paradise. And now this Seed of the woman, our Savior, has come. The center of all human history is the incarnation of Jesus in the womb of Mary. Mary is the new eve – the mother of all the living and she understands her place in history. Everyone loves that song, called, “Mary did you know?” I like the song too. The words go:

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughter…Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kissed your little baby you kissed the face of God Mary did you know?”

Well, the text tonight actually answers the question quite well. Mary clearly did know. She believed. She understood that she was carrying the Christ based upon her song, the Magnificat, a sort of aria, a sublime song of faith about Jesus.  

When Mary goes to Elizabeth with this great news – the world world stands still. This is what the whole world has been waiting for. All of the promises of God become are seen in this very moment. But things are not quiet for long – nor should they be. The angels are rejoicing. John the Baptist is leaping in the belly of His mother. Mary is singing. Elizabeth is rejoicing. All of creation is changing. Holy Scripture says in Romans chapter 8: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Great things are happening.

The Lord of all creation is entering our world. Not as a booming voice from Mount Sinai, not as a burning bush or a pillar of fire but as a little lamb. In Mary’s womb, tonight, God is an embryo. The seed promised since the dawn of human existence who would free us from our sins – who would restore life – restore communion with God. He is here. 

Mary is the new Eve. A little beating heart under hers. And she gets it. She believes. And she does what pregnant moms do. Announce the good news. As the arc of the covenant was carried with the presence of God to Judea in the Old Testament, now, in the new Testament, the new arc of the covenant – is carried to the hill country. But God is not carried in an arc of gold but in the womb of Mary – the new shrine for the presence of God until His birth in a manger in Bethlehem.

Elizabeth is thrilled at the presence of Mary. She is filled with the Holy Spirit and cries out “Blessed is the fruit of your womb! Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

It’s a good question. A question we should all ask. Why should we poor miserable sinners expect to be blessed by God? We have unclean lips – we dwell in the midst of an unclean people. It’s hard to imagine that the holy presence of God would even dare come near us. But this has always been the will of God, even before the fall into sin - that God would dwell among his people – tabernacle among us – become a man, like us in every way, but without sin – yet bearing sin – that we might be his own. So that we might live under him in His kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

Like Elizabeth. God has come to you. Be glad. He wants to bless you. To heal you. To forgive you all of your sins. That seed born of Mary – would grow and bear the best fruit upon the tree of the cross and Mary’s heart would be pierced. He would be crushed for our offenses – nailed and killed – and gobbled up by the grave. But he sprouted up from the earth on the third day to destroy sins power. To overcome death. To open heaven for all who believe – for Mary – for Elizabeth – for John – and for all of God’s family, especially for you.

The people in the Old Testament lived broken and sinful lives like us. They too needed to be saved. They needed Jesus just like we do. And now he comes to you, fresh and risen from the grave, to give himself. God comes to you tonight in mercy. He reigns in heaven and down here on our altar as the Lamb of God. He visits you in love. Covers you with his cleansing sacrificial blood.  Like Mary you too bear Christ. You carry him in the manger of your heart and bear him in body and soul. God is with us. 

In the name of Jesus.  

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