Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Ephesians)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM (Psalm 119 deep dive)
                    Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM

Private Confession: By appointment.



When Christ Came Into The Cosmos

December 19, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
December 19, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Advent 4
When Christ Came Into the Cosmos

In those days Mary arose and went into the hill country with haste to a town in Judah, and entered into the home of Zacharias, and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth, now overflowing with the Holy Spirit, intoned with a great cry and said,

"Blessed are you among women!
And blessed is the fruit of your womb!

And how is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me? for Behold! when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that the words spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled." Luke 1:39-45

In St. Luke Chapter One we are confronted by a number of miraculous events: An angel named Gabriel is dispatched from outside the cosmos, from heaven, to a town called Nazareth in the region of Galilee.

He is directed to go to the home of a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph. He came to make an incredible announcement; but one that Mary believed, and so may we all!

She was told that she would conceive a child which shocked her because she did not yet have an husband but was only engaged. She was not one to jump the gun and become intimate with her man BEFORE an official marriage. But the angel explained to her that the Father of this Son would be no man at all, but God himself, who by his Holy Spirit “would come upon her, and overshadow her” and as a result the child conceived within her would be called Holy! The Son of God.

But Gabriel was not done yet. He told her that she was to name this Child Jesus; that he would be: Great! And that the Lord God would give him the Throne of his father David. And that his kingdom would never end!

As if this were not enough he informed Mary that her cousin Elizabeth, who was not only barren, but was now well beyond the child bearing years, was in her sixth month, adding this explanation: “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Let us ponder that for a moment, that with God nothing shall be impossible.

There are many prosecutors who would tell us that we are beyond redemption, because our sins are too great. First the Law of God in Scripture condemns our sinful thoughts, words and deeds. Next our conscience, if we still have one, sentences us to hopelessness. Then the devil and his cultural chorus join in to further denounce us, until we pine away in sadness.

But with God nothing shall be impossible.

There are many who would tell us that God could not become man because the finite humanity is incapable of containing the Infinite. Nor, by that same reasoning, could Jesus possibly give us his flesh and blood on the cross and in the bread and wine of Holy Communion to forgive us our sins, redeem us, renew us, and make us immortal.

But with God nothing shall be impossible.

Christ can leave heaven and enter the cosmos to be our Savior. He can be born of a Virgin to live, suffer and die in our place, and to be raised from the dead: for us men and for our salvation.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence!

Yes, hearing today’s gospel makes us who live in the womb of Mother Church leap with joy as we survey the endless benefits that God bestows upon us because of his “fatherly divine goodness and mercy.”

None the less there is more going on here than meets the eye.

We could call the event we hear of in today’s gospel the first Christian worship service, because that is what it was. Look at the elements.

First, there is Jesus who even from the womb of the Blessed Virgin is able to make known “the wonders of his love” to Elizabeth, and the child in her womb.

And so upon concluding with the Angel Gabriel Mary, with the greatest possible haste goes to the hill country of Judah, some 70 miles away, and enters into the “house of Zacharias” who is a priest of God. There she greets Elizabeth most likely with the same works that Gabriel used to greet her: “The Lord be with you.”

Now in our faith and practice when we Greet another in this way:

“the Lord be with you;
and also with you,”

it is not for the sake of etiquette, but is rather a declarative sentence of what occurs when mere mortals encounter our gracious and compassionate Lord Jesus Christ: be it in the womb of Mary or in Holy Liturgy.

And Elizabeth knew the real meaning of that beautiful declaration in the core of her being because, upon hearing it, her baby, now six months gestated, leaped with joy as the words fell upon his mother’s ears. Now that is powerful!

Moreover Elizabeth, now filled with the Holy Spirit, begins to magnify the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to liturgize the Son of God in her womb! But what does all this mean? What is happening here?

This was the “first Christian worship service” where, just as today, Christ Communes with his people in Flesh and Blood, and bestows the remission of sins, life, salvation and joy upon them. Upon us. And fills us with the utmost possible gladness because Jesus is come to defeat all of our enemies, and to give us pure life!

How do we know that this was a worship service, and not just a happenstance? We know because of the word that St. Luke uses. He says that: Elizabeth, now overflowing with the Holy Spirit, INTONED with a great cry and said,

INTONE is a liturgical word that is used only in connection with the worship of God that took place at the Ark of the Covenant. And the “great cry” she cried had less to do with volume, than with the content of Elizabeth’s inspired liturgy.

“Blessed are you among women;
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

Now as this tiny congregation in the hills of Judah offered worship and praise to Christ, in the home of Zechariah the priest, we do the same today.

The Divine Liturgy we pray today is not the first, nor will it be the last, but it is the same as the one that St. Elizabeth learned from the Holy Spirit and, via St. Luke, teaches the church today. Namely the worship of Christ who comes to raise up fallen creation, by entering into our cosmos, and assuming our humanity.

Now that which was alienated by sin, God and the Cosmos, are now reunited by our Lord’s Offering of his flesh and blood on the cross for sins once and for all; and given to us today at his altar.

Reunited because God, in Christ, crossed the barrier and became incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He entered the cosmos and does the same at every Eucharist that the church celebrates. And “he will appear a second time, not to deal with sin,” that is already done, “but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

We are those people! Amen