Today's Bible reading: Hebrews 11:8-19
Possibly the best stories in entire Bible are found in the pages of the book of Genesis. They have everything: romance, intrigue, high drama, tragedy, and happy endings. Yet this is all God’s story – His plan at work in strange an amazing ways! We finish with Israel, a large tribe, in Egypt. But Israel is far from the Promised Land. How will it become a blessing for all the nations?
There is one important clue in the blessing of Jacob. Judah is singled out for a special blessing. A king will one day arise from that tribe and rule forever. Jacob's blessing of Judah says in part: “Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” It's amazing for us to see how things start to tie together. Judah is like a young lion in might and bravery. However, the mature lion of Judah would show his strength in King David … and ultimately in the coming of the Messiah. Continuing with the theme of miraculous births … last week it was Sarah, this week it is Rebecca … but also the Virgin Mary.
Just as an angel announced the birth of Isaac … so, too, the Archangel Gabriel announces the birth of Christ to Mary. Gabriel says: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called Holy – the Son of God.” This describes the Spirit bringing fertility and life to the land … and “overshadow” describes God's presence in the tabernacle. Accordingly, Gabriel's announcement implies that through Mary's pregnancy, God will be present among His people in a more wonderful way. Then verse 37 reads: “For nothing will be impossible with God” … and we can recall that this echoes the question God asked Abraham while announcing that Sarah would bear Isaac in her old age: “Is anything impossible for the Lord.” Amazing how it all ties together!
So … the angel Gabriel announces Jesus birth to Mary – and what did she do? Mary responds in faith … just as Abraham stepped forward in faith when he received the promises of God. And that is where you and I come in – for the same thing has happened to you and I as happened to Abraham and Sarah and Mary and Joseph: God has called us by announcing the Gospel through Word and Sacrament. The Lord, likewise, calls us to faith and to bear Christ - not as a child - but as the Holy One of God – our Savior.
Prayer: “O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast on our sin, and enter in, be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels … the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Immanuel!” Amen.
SEE YOU IN WORSHIP TOMORROW - GOD BLESS YOUR DAY!