A reading from the Book of Micah. They covet fields and seize them in houses and take them. They
defraud a man of his home, a fellow man of his inheritance. Therefore, the Lord says, I am planning a
disaster against this people from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly,
for it will be a time of calamity. In that day men will ridicule you. They will taunt you with this mournful
song. We are utterly ruined. My people’s possessions is divided up. He takes it from me.
He assigns it to our fields. Therefore, you will have no one in the assembly of the Lord to divide the
land by lot.
And reading from the Gospel of Luke. At that time, Mary got ready and hurried down to a town in the
Hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth
heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt within her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In
a loud voice, she exclaimed, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child that you will
bear. But why am I so favored that the Mother of my Lord should come to me as soon as the sounds
of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy.
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished. And Mary
said, My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has been mindful of the
humble state of his servant. From now on, all generations will be blessed. For the mighty one has
done great things for me. Holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation
to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm. He has scattered those who are proud in
their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their Thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry
with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to
be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever and ever. Even as he said to our fathers, Mary
stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home. The word of the Lord.
All right, kids. It is time for kids alive. So we’re going to say a prayer for you as you go. Father, we
thank you for our young people today. We ask that you continue to pour out your word into their
hearts as they pour out their lives to you. Lord pray you bless those who are teaching them today and
leading them in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. All right. We’ll see you in a little while. And now, if you all
would pray with me, Father, we ask that your word would be made known among us that what we are
doing here today is not a religious exercise but is a relational thing.
Opening up our hearts and our minds to you, and that you would draw near to those who draw near to
you through the preaching of your word. You would shape and form us for your purposes. We say in
that ancient prayer, come, Lord Jesus, come it’s in your name. We pray. Amen. All right. Well, I got a
call yesterday from our guest preacher who is not here who was exposed to covet on Wednesday.
And so even with a test, we wouldn’t know for sure, because you have to wait, like five days.
And so I said that’s. All right. I’ll say something. Thankfully, the passage that was chosen as a
passage I’ve spoken about before, so I was able to look at some old notes and everything. And here
you go. We’re in the season of Advent, where we celebrate the fact that Jesus has come into the
world. But we remind ourselves that He’s coming again, and that when he comes again, there’s going
to be a great reversal. And as I’ve thought about this, I’ve thought about, what does that look like in
our lives when reversal actually happens?
And I thought of a situation where I wish that I could have had a reversal. Have you ever wished for a
reversal, be able to kind of put your life in reverse and redo something? In this case, I was in College
and there was a young lady named Janet, and she was a fantastic actress and everything. And we
were an acting class. And the acting teachers are always trying to pull out the best in you. And they
must have decided that Janet needed something. Although I don’t know why, because she really was
one of the best actresses in the school.
And so the teacher said, I want every one of you to go up to Janet and to tell her something that you
like about her. And that was no problem. I mean, we loved Janet one after another. People went
forward and said something they liked about Janet. When we were done. Then the teacher said, Now I
want you to go up, and I want you to tell Janet something you don’t like about her. I don’t know if she
thought that somehow this is going to help her connect with something deep inside her or whatever.
But I immediately felt uncomfortable. And I’m sure a number of people did. And I did what a few
others did. I went forward and I thought of something kind of innocuous. I thought maybe this won’t
hurt her feelings. I said something like, Janet, sometimes your laugh sounds kind of silly, but others
took it very seriously. It’s a very competitive acting program, and they tried to think very clearly about
one thing they didn’t like about her. And one after another shared the things you watched her kind of
crumple, and she started to cry.
I would like to put a reversal on that one. I would like to put a big reversal on that one. I don’t know if
the acting teacher would like to as well, but I thought it was a very cruel thing to do. What if you could
live any moment in reverse? What if there were words you would want to Unsay and things that you
failed to do that you would go back and do we live in a world where everybody kind of longs for a
world where we wouldn’t have to do that.
But we kind of get it right the first time. Do you know that God shares that longing in Genesis chapter
six? There’s this really interesting thing that happens. It says the Lord saw how great the wickedness
of the human race had become on the Earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human
heart was only evil. All the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the Earth. It’s
the Lord says, I want to put it into reverse, and his heart was filled with pain.
But he didn’t put it into reverse. God knew that humanity would reject him. God knew that humanity
would plunge itself headlong into wickedness and oppression and disaster. And he knew that he also
planned on bringing about a reversal. That’s what this season is all about, the season longing for that.
But this is kind of where we get into trouble as Western thinkers as Christians living in the Western
world. Right. We are linear thinkers. So when we say Jesus is coming again, Jesus will return. What
do we think of?
We think of a day, maybe far off, that is going to happen when Jesus will come and he’ll set everything
right. And we long for that day. And we look forward to that day. But that’s linear thinking. Jewish
thinking is not so linear. Jewish thinking tends to be circular so that Jews can look back into the past
and say that what happened then is relevant now. What happened then? We took part in even though
we weren’t alive. And it’s relevant now. And what’s happening in the future is relevant now.
We can declare it as done. And that is, in fact, what Mary does in this song in The Magnificent it’s
called, which means to Magnify, Mary is making a big deal of God. And as she does, she says this, if
you look in Luke 139 or rather, I’m jumping ahead where he says, My soul glorifies the Lord and my
spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for he’s been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now,
all generations will call me blessed for the mighty one has done great things for me.
And then she goes on to say that He’s performed mighty deeds. He scattered those who are proud
and thought he has brought down rulers from their Thrones. He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty. How is it Mary able to say that? See, Mary, you’re still poor Mary.
The Romans are still ruling your country. Mary, look at the world we live. How can you declare it done
that the Lord has done these things when our Western country, which has full access to Vaccinations,
as compared to much of the rest of the world where they’re struggling to have 1% of their population
vaccinated, Where’s the equality there, Mary, China and Russia are raising their heads and becoming
The Taliban are back in power. Hades ruled by gangs. Syria is under the thumb of a tyrant. On and on
it goes oppression, greed and envy, strife, favoritism, gossip, betrayal. But Mary was able to see it and
declare it all done. So as we look at the magnificate and we see Mary employing circular thinking,
what does it mean for us? How do we get to that place where we can actually declare what God is
going to do? Done? Well, look at verse 39. At that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the Hill
country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the
Holy Spirit. So Mary is pregnant and she goes to visit Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. Elizabeth is
pregnant with John the Baptist, and she’s five months into her pregnancy and she’s been in seclusion.
So we don’t even know that Mary knows this at the time. And she’s pregnant. As I said with John the
Baptist, whose role was what to announce the great reversal, the tearing down of the mountains, the
lifting up of the Plains, the casting away of the rich, the filling of the empty and the poor.
And just as he would be later in life, John is so excited to be in the presence of Jesus that within the
womb he leaps for joy by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby
leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice, she exclaimed,
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear. But why am I so favored that
the mother of my Lord should come to me as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the baby and my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her. Not only does she
believe that he will do it, she believes he has done it. So here’s why it’s significant for us. We come
across people in this world who are not believers. And they look at the world and they see the sorrow
and the heartache and the troubles. And they wonder what will set it right. And they look to all kinds of
things, right to politics, to science, to all kinds of things.
And it seems like the further we progress with all those kinds of things, we’re still asking the same
question, what will set this world right. But as believers, we look at this world and we say, only God,
only God can fix this messed up world. But Jesus is coming back, and he will do it again. We’re kind of
thinking linear, right? He’s coming back and he will do it. But what if, like, Mary, we really begin to think
circular and say it’s already done. We only need receive it, and we only need to believe it.
And then as we receive it and we believe it, it actually begins to affect the change that is coming. So
as Bernard of Clairvaux said in Advent, we pray Come Lord Jesus. And it’s a prayer that we prayed at
the first Advent. It’s a prayer that we pray now in our lives, saying, Come Lord Jesus in our lives now.
And it’s a prayer that we pray for Him to eventually come in the body, in the flesh in the second
coming. So what if we begin thinking all of that is all circular.
It’s all tied together. And as we believe it and receive it, we begin to live it now. And so we become
part of what God is doing will be doing has done and will do that’s living in reverse. But, you know,
something reverse is not easy, right? It’s not the way the world is set up. It’s kind of like if you are
driving your car, how many of you drive cars you drive cars? Do you even think about it anymore? I
mean, just barely, right. You get in the car, you put it in gear and you go.
One of the only times we actually think about it is when we’re backing up, unless you’ve got one of
those cameras in your car, how many of you have cameras in your car? That’s just not fair. It’s just not
fair. But if you don’t have a camera in your car and you’re on a long driveway and you start to back up,
you got to put your hand back. You’re looking, you’re looking forward, you’re looking backwards,
looking forward to make sure you’re not drifting off that way, looking backwards to make sure you’re
not going to back in.
And finally you get out. The only people who are really proficient at this are people who do it for a
living, who find themselves in a situation where they’re always back. Will is a really good backer
upper. I mean, I’m amazed. Like when Will put the hitch on his trailer and all that stuff and the way he
backs that thing up, he’s been doing it for many years. He’s becoming, huh? Yeah. So he’s got what we
call unconscious competence. He doesn’t have to think about it much.
That’s where God wants to bring us by what he does in us, in the word and in the Sacrament, in our
coming together in worship for a resetting each week because the world is constantly working on us.
The world is constantly saying it’s this way. It’s this way. This is how life works. And we say, no, no,
God does it different. He wants a reversal of our attentions and our affections. And that’s what you
actually see here. I’m going to read this part again that I read earlier and Mary said, My soul glorifies
the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.
For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on, all generations will call me
blessed for the mighty one has done great things for me. He’s been mindful of the humble state of His
servant. See what God is working. There is a reversal of our intentions and affections. From now on,
all generations will look to this little humble girl and say, She’s blessed. You know, the world is not set
up to be mindful of the humble. When Mary talks about humility, she’s not talking about it the way I
like to think about it.
I like to think of Humility as somebody who’s really accomplished a lot, maybe written books and all
that stuff. But when they’re in the crowd, they don’t talk about it. They don’t draw attention to
themselves. I want to be humble in that kind of way, like, oh, man, he’s so accomplished. He could do
all these things. He doesn’t really draw attention to it, you know. But that’s what Mary’s talking about.
When she’s talking about humility, she’s talking about the kind of humility you don’t choose but
You’re born into it. You’re born into a lowly nation and into a lowly family. And you come from a lowly
place. And you have very little to your name. And you’re probably not much to look at. I mean, all the
paintings of Mary. She’s beautiful. But you know what it says of Jesus in the Scriptures. He had no
Majesty, no beauty, that we should be drawn to him. And Jesus only biological parent was Mary. So
he got his looks from her. I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Mary probably wasn’t much
to look at.
I think she was a plain little teenager. And yet I still think it’s great that in the artwork, she’s beautiful
because the artwork is reflecting what really is inside Mary. One who says the Lord has been mindful
of my humble estate. May it be to me, as the Lord has said, so the world doesn’t take notice of the
humble and the plain. If a girl is playing, she sought out or left out. Well, she’s usually left out by her
peers. She’s often left out by adults who overlook her.
Mary beautiful or plain. We don’t know for sure, but humble indeed. Yet Mary could say from now on,
all generations will call me blessed and goes on to say, for the mighty one has done great things for
me. Holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has
performed mighty deeds. With his arm, he’s scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He’s brought down rulers from their Thrones but has lifted up the humble. He’s filled the hungry with
good things, but has sent the rich away empty.
Really? Mary? Is that true? I mean, in the world we live in, is it true? She’s saying, yes, it’s true for what
God has done in the past and what he will do in the future. I can believe and receive now. I can believe
it and live it now. And he’s doing it as He’s bringing a Savior into our midst in the most humble of
circumstances. It’s huge what’s it take to bring about a reversal of attentions and affections in our
own lives. The rich are sent away empty.
But we don’t think of it that way. Money buys you the first class seat, right? Yet when Jesus told a
parable of the rich man and Lazarus, he pointed to a great reversal. And remember that in your life
you received your good things while Lazarus received bad things. But now he is comforted here and
you are in agony. He’s warning the rich because he loves them. Because of this reversal, Jesus
consistently taught and warned the rich that they’d have a hard time entering the Kingdom of God.
And so he taught them to live into the reversal. Now we are wealthy folks, right as believers. We have
so much. But Jesus is saying, I want you to be mindful of the poor and the lowly and to live into the
humility. This just popped into my mind. There’s a verse in Scripture one of the Epistles where I think
it’s Paul or no, it’s James. He says the poor, basically the poor should boast in their position before
the Lord. But the rich should humble themselves in their position.
The rich should kind of revel in their humble state before the Lord. And so Jesus tells us to use our
worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves, so that when it’s gone, you’ll be welcomed into eternal
dwellings to be mindful of the poor and the lonely, to be the kind of person who uses our wealth as
much for others and even more as we do for ourselves, because one day it’s all going to be reversed.
And that’s God’s way. Verse 454 and 55, he has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.
What was the promise? He said, I’ve chosen you not because you were the greatest, because you
were the least. Why? So that my glory could be shown to the Nations God intended for Israel. And God
intends for the Church to embrace our loneliness and in it embrace Jesus. And that will be assigned
to the world that he really is among us. Had I realized that at that moment and understood. I would
have said no, Janet, we love you. We love you just as you are. We would not have torn her down.
We would have built her up because that’s the way the Kingdom of God works. So how do we get
there? How do we get there? I believe the key here is in the passage. As soon as the sound of your
greeting reached my ears, the baby and my womb leaped for joy. The Holy Spirit filled. John the
Baptist empowered John the Baptist to recognize his cousin Jesus as the Messiah and as the Holy
Spirit living in our midst. I was talking with Natalie before the service, and she’s just talking about her
daughter going to another Church where the music is really big.
It’s loud. It draws you in as a teenager. I get that right. But you know what? The loudest music, the
greatest bands. None of that means anything without the Holy Spirit. In the same way. Liturgy so
often feels dead when the Holy Spirit isn’t there. But when the Holy Spirit enters our hearts and is
instructing our way, he brings life to the very words that we speak, the prayers that we do, the
repetition of coming forward to receive at the table. The Holy Spirit is moving in all of that and he’s
moving in us.
Do you believe it? And do you receive it? It’s been done. What did Jesus say upon the cross? It is
finished. That is why we can declare with Mary that the rich have been sent away. The empty and the
humble poor have been lifted up. Not they will be lifted up. But they have been lifted up because in
Christ, we who are poor become rich. We who are rich, become poor in Christ, all are made equal and
joined together. We can declare it with Mary because Jesus upon the cross said it is finished.
All that remains simply is the culmination of days. And when we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright,
shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun. When we’ve
been there 10,000 years, this world and its darkness and its brokenness. I can’t imagine even
remembering it after 10,000 years, it will seem as if all was always glory and righteousness and
goodness. But until then, we come every week and we remind ourselves by our songs and our actions
and by our openness to the Spirit of God that he is here and it is finished.
Amen. Well, Heavenly Father, would you make us a people that become proficient at reverse of living
life now as it will be then, of letting what you have done in the past, change what we are doing now, of
letting what you promise in the future, shape and form us for the lives that we live today. For your
honor and glory. Open our eyes. Lord in Jesus name. Amen.