Prepare the Way - Proclaim
Topic: Biblical Verse: Luke 1:26–1:38
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 20, 2020
“Prepare the Way: Proclaim”
How many of you enjoy watching home renovation shows? Like many people, we have watched lots of these programs, all of which can spark ideas and get a person thinking. You might be inspired to take on some do-it-yourself projects or even look at bigger plans to do larger, more complex, and more expensive undertakings. It’s pretty amazing what can be done to transform a place that looks run down and shabby, and make it over into a home that looks completely different where everything functions in this beautiful space. In a number of these shows, the buzz words are helping people find their “forever home,” which is that place where folks want to spend many happy years enjoying the place they call home. We all have dreams of such a forever home, don’t we? That’s what we hear about in today’s Old Testament lesson (2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16). King David was in his cedar-paneled palace in Jerusalem, but there was no “forever home” for the Lord God. The Lord’s tabernacle was still in a tent, which bothered David greatly. In his heart, he wanted to build a magnificent forever home for the Lord to dwell in. That was David’s dream – his great desire, but God proclaimed to David through the prophet Nathan that He would build David a forever home. That forever home would be realized not in a place, but in a Person. The angel Gabriel proclaims to Mary in today’s Gospel lesson (Luke 1:26-38) that she would conceive and bear a Son who would be the fulfillment of that long ago promise. Our Advent preaching series, “Prepare the Way,” concludes today. We’ve looked at Ponder, Pray, Praise, and now on this Fourth and final Sunday in Advent, we focus on Proclaim. Based on today’s Old Testament and Gospel lessons, the message is entitled “Prepare the Way: Proclaim.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.
It’s all about promise and fulfillment when it comes to home renovation. If the contractor promises the work to be done at such-and-such a price by such-and-such a date and doesn’t fulfill that promise, there’s a problem. Anyone who has gone through a home renovation will tell you that it costs twice as much as you planned and that it took twice as long to do. There can be unforeseen problems that have to be addressed. The materials ordered are no longer available and you have to pick out something different. The promise of that renovated forever home might seem like it’s never going to be fulfilled. God proclaims a promise to David: “… the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house… And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:11, 16). This same promise is reflected in today’s Psalm: “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations’” (Psalm 89:3-4). But the fulfillment of God’s promise to David did not come about until countless centuries later – at the right time; the God-appointed time. As the angel Gabriel proclaimed to Mary: “And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32). And this is what we proclaim: the fulfillment of that promise to David in the coming of Jesus, David’s Son and David’s Lord (Matthew 22:41-46).
Week by week, we proclaim the fulfillment of God’s promise in Jesus. By his coming into the world, he fulfilled all of God’s will and purpose, even offering his very life upon the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Week by week, Jesus now comes to us in his Word and Sacraments for the forgiveness of our sins and for the strengthening of our faith. The proclamation of Jesus’ saving work that comes through the means of grace – Word and Sacraments – is all about a renovation project in each of our lives. Bit by bit, day by day, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord is rebuilding us from the inside out. This means that we are all a work in progress. This side of heaven, the Lord is continually renovating our hearts and minds to be his forever home. This isn’t always quick or easy; it can take a very long time. Sometimes this can be painful as the Lord seeks to remove what is rotting and decaying in our lives. Will we rebel against this? Will we reject the Lord’s plans to renovate and remake us? Or will we, like Mary in response to the angel Gabriel’s announcement, respond quietly and simply: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). If we were to read on in Luke 1, we would find that after the angel’s announcement to Mary, she traveled to visit her relative, Elizabeth, who was herself pregnant with the child who would become John the Baptist. And upon arrival, Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, greets Mary and knows that she carries in her womb the promised Messiah. Herself inspired by the Holy Spirit, Mary then bursts into praise of God: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47).
This past week, I learned about a little boy who came racing outside the church late one afternoon as it was getting dark. One of our members happened to be going outside just then, saw this boy and spoke to him briefly. He was on a mission, and was all about seeing for himself the Nativity display on the front lawn of the church. Apparently, he had seen this from the street, but now wanted to get closer for a better look. He was very excited! His father was right behind him, and together they walked all around looking at the different figures of the Nativity as the father explained to his son who each of them were. And so without any words, that display on the front lawn of our church spoke to this little boy’s heart and mind, pointing him to Jesus. As this season of Advent draws to a close and we prepare to hear again the “good news of great joy which is for all people” (Luke 2:10), the birth of Jesus, may we also, like that little boy, be eager to go and see for ourselves. And having seen what the Lord has done, may we then go and proclaim to others what we have seen and heard. Amen.