Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sermon on finding favor with God

Sermon on finding favor with God
St. Luke 1:26-35

This is a full transcript of a sermon preached December 6, 2011 (this year we are observing St. Nicholas' Day here on the 7th), at St. Paul’s in Kewanee
(for the audio, click here)

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Dearly beloved in the Lord,

It was said of old that it’s a frightful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. According to St. Paul, that day is coming: the Day of Judgment; the day when all who condemn others condemn themselves, all who judge others are themselves become guilty of the judgment. He will render to everyone according to his deeds; which means we are in trouble, which means we have reason to fear, as it was said in Sunday’s Gospel: men's hearts failing them for fear—they are better off fearing ahead of the Day of Judgment than at it, when it shall be too late.

So repent today, while it is still called today, and let your repentance be filed with hope and expectation of the One whose first coming we celebrate in just a few weeks. For he who came and he who is coming is in the flesh, our flesh, And this ought to give us abiding hope even in spite of ourselves and the sins we have committed in the flesh. For the coming One is the One whose first coming was, according to the Gospel we heard today, as the Son of Mary.

This is a wondrous thing, that the Son of God and the Son of Mary are one and the same Person: Jesus, God saving. And his way of saving is by blending heaven and earth, by making of the substance of God and the substance of his mother one indivisible substance, both divine nature and human nature blending themselves into one personal union. Not that the divinity should be compromised thereby, or that the humanity should be changed into anything other than pure humanity, but that God and man should become one Person.

Ponder this mystery, for in this mystery is our salvation. The Son of God and the Son of Mary are one Person. The Son of the Highest gives unto us, by virtue of his holy incarnation, a place beside himself at the throne of his father David; which means that the message of the angel Gabriel to the blessed Virgin is as much a message for you as it was for her, to still her quivering heart: Fear not! Fear not, Mary, for thou has found favor with God. So also we ourselves, who are in the flesh, the same flesh as Mary our sister and our mother, the same flesh in which all the earth, all humanity is wrapped, this flesh, like Mary’s flesh, finds favor with God, because her Son is wrapped in the same flesh, within the quiet place of her womb.

She rejoices finally in this knowledge, aware that with God nothing shall be impossible, taking this mystery into her soul. Take it into your soul, and be confident that in this Jesus Christ you have nothing to fear, for he has put away your sins, and in him you shall find favor with God just as she did. For the favor we find with God is not the kind of favor that results from putting away our own sins, but from looking to him with repentant hearts and in faith seeing that Jesus by this mystery has put away our sins for us.

We therefore in him and never in ourselves, with Mary, find favor with God. So be found in him. Receive him again. Take into your mouth and into your soul his holy Body and Blood with abiding confidence that his flesh and your flesh are become one and the same, again, as they have ever been, and that he who has come in your flesh is the same as he who from eternity is the Son of God. For in this mystery is your everlasting salvation.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.

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