First Christmas (Luke 1)

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Service Notes

  • Liturgical Date: Advent Midweek I [Holy Spirit and Christmas] - December 4, 2013
  • Order of Service: Prayer & Preaching
  • Hymns: LSB #331, 384, 352

Theme Verse

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God. (Luke 1:34-35)

Sermon Text

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is one of the most mysterious and most misunderstood doctrines in the Christian faith. We believe in the inspiration of Scripture. That the Holy Spirit inspired--breathed in--the words of Holy Scripture into the human mouths and minds who proclaimed and wrote them. But the Holy Spirit doesn't say much about Himself. But He is the Mover behind the greatest event in the history of the world.

The Holy Spirit works sight unseen to make Christmas possible.

And this is seen from the very beginning. The Holy Spirit works sight unseen to make the first Christmas possible. Without the Holy Spirit's movement, we would not have the first Christmas. Christmas is not about the presents under the tree but the Presence in the manger. The Presence conceived by the Holy Spirit. Born of the Virgin Mary. Son of God and Son of Man. The unfathomable fact of the Incarnation.

The angel Gabriel came down and told the Virgin Mary that she was going to be the Theotokos--the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. He announced the greatest mystery of the Christian faith. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among His creatures (John 1:14). And Mary was the vessel the Father chose to bring His Son into the world. God the Son, through whom was everything made (John 1:3), was born as a tiny baby for the salvation of the world. The Holy Spirit moves behind the scenes to bring this salvation to you.

The Holy Spirit moved Mary to ask, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (v34) Many people try to turn this question into doubt. That Mary refused to believe that God was able to do this miracle. But the Holy Spirit moved Mary to be like David: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?" (Psalm 8:4)

Why does God care so much about Mary that He would pick her to be the Theotokos? He cared deeply for her. Mary "found favor with God" (v30) because she IS a sinner. She needed her Son to redeem her as much as you and I need Him. The Holy Spirit moved her to faithfully say, "I am the servant of the Lord" (v38). St. Paul would later write, "For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing" (1 Timothy 2:13-15). The salvation of the world comes through childbearing. Salvation comes because Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. Because God favored her and made her the Theotokos.

Why does God care so much about you that He would pick Mary to be the Theotokos? He wants you to be saved as well. Jesus wasn't born just for Mary. He was born for all mankind. He didn't die just for Mary. He died for you. He shows you the same favor He showed Mary by giving you the same Holy Spirit.

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (v35). For Mary, the Holy Spirit came upon her and she conceived Jesus. No one saw it happen. No one could hardly believe it happened. Just ask Joseph. The Holy Spirit works sight unseen to make the first Christmas possible.

The Holy Spirit comes upon you but with different results. You are not made pregnant, but you are given the gift of Jesus. When the Holy Spirit came upon you in Baptism, He began to dwell within you. No one saw it happen. From the outside, all you could see was water. But the Holy Spirit came upon you and the power of the Most High overshadowed you as well. You are no longer your own. Like Mary, you are the willing servant of the Lord.

A willing servant moved by the Holy Spirit to receive the true Light of the world (John 1:12). Overshadowed by the gift of faith, you believe in His name and have "the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). In your Baptism, you were born. Not of flesh and blood. Not by the will and working of your parents. Born of God's will. Born by the power and working of the Holy Spirit. Receiving the gift of faith, you see that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). In faith, you wait for the Advent of your King and encourage the world to praise the Lord. Praising Him because of the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life. Amen.