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A Season of Faith
Luke 1:26-38


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Advent Service I—December 1, 2010

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

What comes to mind when I say the word “Christmas”?  Of course, you think on the birth of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate at Christmastime.  But, probably also comes to mind many other things we associate with the season: gifts, decorations, family gatherings, programs, parties.  There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but in our world today these other aspects of Christmas are becoming so prominent we are forgetting the real reason for the season.  In our Advent sermon series this year we will remember what this holiday season is really all about: “A Season of Faith”; “A Season of Hope”; “A Season of Love.”

The text for our first message in this series is this evening’s reading.  “‘The angel said to Mary, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. . .  For nothing is impossible with God.’  ‘I am the Lord's servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’”

It was 20 years ago in 1990 that a man predicted a major earthquake would strike on the New Madrid fault in southern Illinois on December 3, 1990.  It was supposed to destroy St. Louis, and devastate the entire area.  This prediction was taken very seriously.  On the day of the predicted quake there were double shifts for law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other emergency and hospital personnel, as their disaster plans went into effect; many businesses closed, and schools cancelled classes; airports were jammed as tens of thousands fled the area for the day; thousands of media from all over the world gathered and waited in New Madrid, Missouri; and my brother-in-law in Kansas City called up his insurance agent and added earthquake insurance to his homeowner’s policy.

Ten years ago there was worldwide hysteria as we approached the year 2000.  If you’re looking for a used backup generation there is actually a huge glut on the market now of like-new units, never used once, which were installed ten years ago because of the predicted disaster that never came.

And, today, the latest prediction of doom and gloom is in two years, when the end of the world will supposedly come on December 21, 2012.  ABC News reports, “[P]eople worldwide seem to be preparing . . . for the end of days in 2012 . . .  Unprecedented catastrophe . . . such as massive earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions, among other calamities . . . will precede the end of the world in 2012, believers say.”

Now, contrast those examples of our readiness and willingness to put our faith and trust in the word and prophecies of men, with our lack of faith in the Word and prophecies of God.  Jesus says it all when he says to us, “O you of little faith . . .”  Little faith in what really matters; little faith in God and his Word.

Jesus said to doubting Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.”  Believe what’s really important; believe the reason for the season.  Believe the Son of God came to earth to be your Savior.  Believe he came down from heaven, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, for you and your salvation.  Believe the Babe of Bethlehem is God in human flesh, who lived on earth for you a perfect life, died on the cross for you a sacrificial death, and rose from the grave and ascended into heaven for you, so that you will rise with him to eternal life.  Believe your sins are all forgiven because of him.  As Scripture says in the book of Acts, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

“Stop doubting and believe.”  Take as your example of faith the characters you meet in this Advent-Christmas season.  Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptizer, and the other believers of old, who had faith in God’s promise to send the Messiah to be Savior of the world.    

“Stop doubting and believe,” like the Virgin Mary in this evening’s reading, who had faith in the angel’s amazing announcement: “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High . . .  The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. . .  For nothing is impossible with God.”  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”

“Stop doubting and believe,” like Joseph, who had faith in the angel’s assurance, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

“Stop doubting and believe,” like the shepherds, who had faith in the wonderful Good News proclaimed to them by the angel, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. . .  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.”

“Stop doubting and believe,” like the Wise Men, who had faith in the special sign God sent to them: “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.”

Like all these characters you meet in this Advent-Christmas season, “Stop doubting and believe.”

“[I believe] in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary . . .  God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God . . .  who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.”  As Martin Luther says in the Small Catechism, “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord . . .  This is most certainly true.”

In all the busyness and distractions of this holiday season, remember what it’s really all about: “A Season of Faith.” “Oh, come, all ye faithful . . .  Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!”

Amen.

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