Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “Remember to Love” based on Luke 1:39-55 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, December 23, 2018
Pregnancy can be an emotional time. That has been true ever since Eve, just outside the Garden of Eden, and continues for just about every woman who has ever been with child. There are hormonal balances that become unbalanced. There are physical changes to a woman’s body during those 40 weeks that can make favorite outfits unable to be worn and, therefore, can make a woman feel uncomfortable even in her own skin.
But, it’s not just the chemicals inside or her outward appearance that can make for an emotional roller coaster ride. The simple idea of another human being growing inside of you has its own ups and downs.
Like many other women, both before and after, Mary must have had her fair share of feelings about the embryo inside her own womb. Some of her thoughts were surely the same as what might run through your own mind if you were in the same situation.
Fear definitely has its place. She was carrying another human inside her; a human completely and utterly dependent on her for life – for protection, for nutrition, and even to supply oxygen for lungs that hadn’t fully developed yet. Every move and every decision would have its implications on her child. There is a healthy amount of fear involved in that responsibility.
That fear, though, is, at times, displaced when the joys of life are considered. What a gift God gives to allow women, with a little help from their male companions, to create and sustain life inside themselves! A sense of holy pride, not like the kind in the bible that makes you bad, can send women’s hearts swimming in a sea of accomplishment while carrying their children those nine months.
Fear and joy, godly pride and helplessness, happiness and anxiety. All those emotions are normal. But, as you well know, Mary’s situation can confidently also be called atypical and abnormal and not simply because she lived in a different culture than you and me.
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…from now on all generations will call me blessed.
Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, confessed the truth of the mystery of this pregnancy and Mary concurred. The conception itself was outside of the norm, but the result of that conception was even more important and impressive. Both women knew, by divine intervention, that the child inside of Mary’s bourgeoning belly was the Lord promised to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, and to all his descendants, forever.
Now, because it was God, himself, inside her womb, he could have cared for himself and been an independent infant. He could have, in miraculous fashion, provided for his own protection and provisions. Yet, instead, he chose to rely on Mary. He chose to be born in a natural way. He chose make himself like you and me in every way, in human flesh. Why? Why would God do such a thing?
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.
In her famous song, the Magnificat, Mary sang the motivation behind the Lord’s choices. He remembered his mercy.
Though the world may claim otherwise, particularly in times of trouble, natural disasters, and the horrors of human existence, your God did not remember because he forgot the people in this world which he created. Rather, this word, translated into English as remembering, has much more to do with bringing things to the forefront of your mind at an appointed time.
Do you remember how to cook a steak? How about the directions to your parents’ house? Do you remember how to turn off your alarm in the morning or how to turn off the Christmas lights when you go to bed for the night?
You probably never forgot those things. They were always in your mind and they are always important, but there are times when you turn your attention to other things that lead up to them. You focus on starting the grill, packing up the car, getting your good night’s sleep, or simply enjoying the seasonal glow inside your house. Then, when the appointed time comes, you remember to carry out your next action.
God’s focus, even since before the creation of the world, has been on sending his Son to live and die for you. And, when the appointed time came for Jesus to take on flesh inside the womb of Mary, he called it to the forefront of his mind. All of the promises and prophecies and provisions he made for his people had been laid in place. Now was the time to use what he never forgot and was always the focus of his plan.
And, in sending Jesus to do what mankind could not and to correct the wrongs that all of humanity has wrought, God accomplished all that Mary sang about in her song—bestowing his blessings upon the humble, the hungry, and the helpless. In short, he chose to be merciful.
Those who are humble, hungry, and helpless know that they cannot gain anything for themselves in God’s eyes and that, in contrast, the only thing they have earned from their God, based on their own thoughts, words, and actions, is his divine and deserved wrath for all of eternity.
But, friends, that’s the very definition of God’s mercy. He called to mind and remembered his plan not to give his people, Abraham and all his descendants, including you and me, what they rightly deserved. Because Jesus lived in Mary’s womb, was born, lived a perfect life in your place, and sacrificed that life to pay the redemption price for sin, God chose to be merciful to them and to you. And, as motivation to act this way, God used the only emotion that would cause him to remember his mercy—his great love for you.
He made the decision to love you whether you deserve it or not and did not let anything stand in his way. He worked behind the scenes of all of history to put Mary where she needed to be and carry out his plans for her and for the benefit of each and every one of you.
And, because God, in love, remembered his mercy, all of the emotions and circumstances that surrounded Mary’s pregnancy caused her to remember to show love as well. She showed love for God, and for all Abraham’s descendants as well, by carrying out her calling from God. With all of the hormonal and physical changes and the emotions that affected her every action, you would be hard pressed to say that she ever forgot that she was carrying Immanuel everywhere she went.
And yet, when the appointed time came, she remembered to love that child and all people when she delivered him to them and to you and to me.
Whether you are pregnant or not, whether you have ever been or won’t ever be, you surely have your own share of emotions that affect your own thoughts, words, and actions. Fear and joy, godly pride and helplessness, happiness and anxiety aren’t only reserved for those who are with child.
The world you live in can cause any number of setbacks as well as reasons for celebration and, as you endure your own roller coaster ride of emotions, it would be easy to allow those things to distract you and cause you to forget your own calling from your God.
Especially over the next few days, you, too, are carrying the mystery of the Christ-child within you—not in your womb, but in your faith-filled heart. And, whether it is during your Christmas celebration or in the weeks that follow, the time appointed for you to deliver him for the benefit of others will also come.
As you wait for that appointed time, motivated by God remembering his mercy to you, remember to love. Call that message of free forgiveness for all to mind, glorify the Lord, rejoice in God your Savior, and sing the song of your salvation. Amen.