Sermon for Advent 4 – 12.24.23

+ 4th Sunday in Advent – December 24th, 2023 +

Series B

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“You’re Not Alone”

 

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

 

December is usually the time of the year where you sit down and watch one (or more) of your favorite Christmas movies. You pick out your Christmas tree with the Griswold family. Maybe you huddle by the fire with Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol. Whatever you do, just be careful not to shoor your eye out, kid.

 

One of my personal favorites is Home Alone. 9-year old Kevin McAllister makes a foolish wish that comes true: to make his family disappear. He wanted to be alone. But after the fun of running the house was over, after the cheese pizza was gone, and after successfully defending his home from two criminals, he realized that being home alone at Christmas wasn’t as good as he thought it would be. He missed his mom and dad, his annoying cousins, even his older brother Buzz.

 

Kevin felt what many of us feel in one way or another during the holiday season: that creeping, heavy, lost sense of being alone.

 

And yet, today’s Gospel reading is a reminder that God works in the lives of his people. He does not leave us alone. He does not give us our foolish wishes. He does something greater and better. He joins us in our loneliness in a real and personal way…in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In your flesh. True God, yet true man, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary…for you, to enter our lonely, lost, broken lives, and to find us, forgive us, and assure us that you are never alone.

 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

 

Luke doesn’t tell us, but I imagine that one of the many things Mary felt in the days after Gabriel announced to her that she would be the Mother of God, the God-bearer, and that her Son would be the Son of the Most High, that she would feel alone. An unwed, probably teenage, and definitely poor mother. Imagine how people would stare (with their eyes and point with their fingers) and whisper (did you hear about Mary…just look at her) or just walk away when she walked near.

 

I imagine for one reason or another, we’ve been there before, you might even be feeling that way this morning. Alone. It might be the loneliness of loss. The empty chair at the dinner table. The missing uncle, aunt or grandparent in the family photo. You might even be in a crowded room full of friends and family but still wonder if anyone notices if you’re there.

 

Then there’s the loneliness of guilt and shame; the haunting sins and regrets of the past. The hurtful words we can’t take back. The text message we can’t delete. The addictions and desires that we war against daily; all the ways we’ve tried to drown, or numb, or scroll the pain away. This is what sin does. It isolates us. Separates us from one another. And most of all, from our Lord. At the heart of our sinfulness is a foolish wish: a wish to be alone.

But God does not and will not leave you alone. How do I know this? Because he did not leave Mary alone.

 

behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

 

God didn’t leave Mary alone. God gave Mary her cousin Elizabeth, who was in a unique position to be with her in her loneliness. Remember that the same angel Gabriel who visited Mary had also visited Zechariah and announced the miraculous birth of John the Baptist. God gave Mary and Elizabeth to be a community to one another, a little preview of what the church is to be: bearing one another’s burdens, sharing in the joys of the good news of the Savior who was in Mary’s womb as they met and talked in the months after Gabriel’s visit.

 

But God didn’t stop there. He gave Mary something more. He gave her his word. How will all of this happen? Not because of Mary, but because of the Lord’s word. For Nothing will be impossible with God.

 

And along with his word God did what seemed impossible. The Virgin conceived and bore a son. God entered our lonely, lost lives of sin and death. God did not leave Mary alone and he will not leave you alone either. For the one who is conceived in her, born from her, and swaddled in her arms is the same Son who is born that one day he would die on a cross. Alone. Lost in our sin. All for you. The same Son of God who is born of Mary is also the Son of God who is crucified under Pontius Pilate, who has taken the loneliness of our guilt and shame, who has buried all our foolish words and wishes in his tomb, who entered the darkness of our addictions, temptations, sin, and death itself and taken it all away.

 

And through this Son of God and Son of Mary we hear those comforting words: You are not alone. Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God in Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes upon you and creates and sustains faith and trust in the God who promises never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. The miracle of faith and trust that God gave to Mary, he gives to you as well.  And the God who gave Elizabeth to Mary gives us all the gift of a holy community, the body of Christ.

 

Here we are called to bear one another’s burdens. To pray for one another. To pick up the phone or send a card. To remind our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: you are not alone.

 

When you’re going through it, that feeling of being alone seems like it will never end. But the angel’s words to Mary are also God’s words to us. Gabriel declares to Mary and to us that there is only one thing that has no end. And it’s not our sin, death, or despair. It’s not our loneliness or lostness. The one thing that has no end, that never ends. That is with you always. Is the grace and joy that comes in Jesus who will reign over the house of his father David, and over you forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

 

 

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

 

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977