I.N.I.

St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, 15 August 2011 Galatians 4:4 – 7

International Center Chapel, Saint Louis –

Rev. Albert B. Collver, Ph.D.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” — Galatians 4:4 – 7.

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What has become of this place? Today on August 15th, the International Center celebrating the Feast of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord! Lutherans don’t celebrate St. Mary! After all, didn’t the Reformation happen to purify the church of saints days and such? You might even be thinking, “I have been a Lutheran my entire life and have never celebrated St. Mary before.” Some of you might even be thinking that you are going to check this out with the CTCR after Chapel. Joel’s and Larry’s offices are right next to mine on the fourth floor. But before getting too concerned, if you open your LSB hymnal to Roman Numeral page xxii and look at the second line from the bottom you will see, “St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord” listed as a “Feast and Festival” with one of the given readings Galatians 4:4 – 7.

The Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord, Article XXI says, “Our churches teach that the history of saints may be set before us so that we may follow the example of their faith and good works, according to our calling.” Saint Paul in Galatians sets out to do precisely that, to show us an example of their faith. However, doesn’t even mention Mary’s name. He writes, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Saint Paul confesses that the Son of God was born of woman, that is, born of the Virgin Mary. This is precisely what we confess in both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. Notice that both the focus of Saint Paul and the focus of the Creeds is not on what Mary does, but on Jesus.

Saint Paul’s description of the Virgin Mary is very specific. He says that Jesus was “born of a woman.” In our every day speech, we do not usually pay much attention to the prepositions – “of, on, in, through, et al.” what difference does it make? Yet Saint Paul is very specific and says that Jesus is born “of a woman.” One of the most scandalous things the Christians confessed about Jesus is that he is truly human, with real human flesh and blood. The Ancient people did not have too hard of a time imagining that Jesus was some kind of a god, but they had a very difficult time imagining that this Jesus was truly a man. In the ancient world some people said that Jesus was born through Mary, as light passes through glass untouched. You see, there was a concern about tarnishing “divine” things with physical matter such as human flesh.

On the surface, there seems to be quite a contrast between the Ancient world and our world today. If you turn on the History Channel, most of the shows portray Jesus as all too human. Many modern skeptics have a hard time seeing Jesus as God. Yet modern people have just as much difficulty seeing Jesus as truly human, that is a human just like you and me, except without sin.

You see, the physical world and human flesh is messy business. If you need proof, think about how messy your life has been, or how much of a mess the lives of your friends and family have been. People had a hard time imagining that God could become involved in all of that. Yet this is precisely what Jesus did by being “born of a woman.” Here is why prepositions are so important and in this case makes all the difference in the world that Jesus was born of woman. He took on human flesh, so that he could redeem you and me from the messes that we make of our lives. Jesus took your sin upon himself, from the moment of conception until his death on the cross. Jesus became a human to redeem you from the messes we make of ourselves at every stage of life. What ever sin you have done, whatever you have been called rightly or wrongly because of your sin, now belongs to Jesus, because he was born of a woman. All his righteousness and holiness now belongs to you. He has forgiven you all your sins.

You see, we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, first and foremost because of what this confesses about Jesus, namely, that he became a true human being so that he could take our sin and the messes we make of our lives upon himself. For Lutherans, the celebration of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord is really about Jesus: first about him becoming human; secondly, it is about the faith that Jesus worked in Mary, his mother. She serves as an example of one who heard the Word of God and believed. For this we give thanks to our Lord Jesus and pray that he may accomplish this work in us also.

Go in Peace.

Amen.

“Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your only Son. Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” – Collect for Saint Mary, Mother of Our Lord.

St. Mary's Lutheran Church, Tomsk, Russia (Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church)