Advent 4C                                           December 19, 2021,                                New Orleans, LA

The song goes, “it's the most wonderful time of the year.” 

I would agree, even if not for all the reasons recounted in the song. 

Yet, all of those things are nice and to make for great memories. 

I'm sure each of us has a favorite memory of Christmases past which give us a good feeling inside. 

But, of course, at the root of all this celebration and good cheer is the namesake for the holiday, the Christ child, Jesus.

This is the last Sunday of advent and our texts for today's consideration are fitting of the impending birth of Jesus. 

The Old Testament lesson is one of the final prophecies of the Messiah before God goes silent. 

And as Micah proclaims the savior to come, he also gives it gives its desired result, 

both for those hearing the prophecy, 

as well as those who see its fulfillment. 

Micah declares, “and he shall be their peace.” 

In the epistle lesson the writer explains to the Hebrews the purpose for the Messiah as it was manifested in the person of Jesus. 

That it was God's will for us to be made holy again, that is, to be sanctified, 

by the blood of sacrifice, 

though this time by Jesus’ blood, not the blood of beasts. 

And that this sacrifice was made once but was for the purpose of saving all people. 

And, finally, in the Gospel, we find out to whom the savior will be born. Mary. 

And how she was blessed to be the mother of God. 

Because she believed. 

The stage is now set, the script is written, and the players are introduced.

It's time for the actors to take the stage and play their parts. 

And, in so doing, accomplish God's will to make us holy again. 

Each piece came together as it should and as God knew it would. 

So that you and I would not be lost forever but embraced in his love for eternity.

Each of these texts today have a keyword I'd like you to focus on. 

With the Old Testament lesson, it's peace

With the epistle lesson it's sanctified.

And with the gospel it is blessed.

Each of them can only come to us by faith in Jesus Christ as our savior from sin.

So, let's spend a moment or two with each one this morning. 

And then, when we hear those words this season, we can have a new appreciation for them.

First, peace. 

Israel's entire existence was fraught with conflict and strife, the opposite of peace. 

So, Micah’s prophecy of peace was an important thing for God's people to forward to. 

But when the true purpose of the Messiah is revealed, 

to save sinners from hell, 

that peace is not just political or economic. 

The peace Christ would usher in is the true peace that comes from an unburdened soul and is even called, “the peace that passes all understanding,” because of its completeness. 

The Old Testament believers and we who live in New Testament times, 

both have peace in our faith in the Messiah. 

For the Old Testament believer, it was a peace that their faith was not in vain. 

The Messiah was promised to each generation 

so God could confirm and reestablish his covenant with his people. 

And by this covenant, they knew they were at peace with God. 

For the New Testament believer, we bear witness to the scriptures telling us and the world 

that the covenant was finally fulfilled in the person of Jesus. 

And that we no longer need to fear death or the devil.

By our faith in Jesus, we are safe and can have eternal peace.

The second word is sanctified. 

This word means, “holy.” as in blameless and pure 

It also means set above everything else. 

And when God created the world, he made Adam in that perfect image. 

Blameless and pure and giving him charge of and dominion over the rest of the earth. 

But of course, he and eve would bring shame upon themselves and all humanity. 

When Satan would deceive them and convince them to eat their forbidden fruit,

that would necessitate their fall from holiness. 

God would not permit their condition to be final, and fatal, however, 

so he promised them a savior who would pay for their sins in their place. 

And who would, by grace, make them holy once more, 

sanctifying them so that they could be reconciled with God once again. 

And that holiness was won for you and me as well.

The price Jesus paid on the cross 

was sufficient to make anyone at any time in history holy again, so long as they believed.

The third word is blessed. 

Just as Elizabeth told Mary, when we have faith, we are blessed. 

Faith takes the pressure off of us when our situation and surroundings seem bleak.

Faith gives us the option to look for other choices, methods, and outcomes 

which may not be obvious, or clear to us today, 

but which allow us to place a need or fear into God's hands and out of ours. 

And this is all so that we can focus on what he has told us about himself. 

Not only his nature as both God and man, sent into the world to save sinners,

But that he calls us to be “fishers of men.”

So that we can follow him, 

being his disciple who makes other new disciples. 

You and I are truly blessed by our knowledge of the savior. 

It's different than Mary’s blessing, but similar. 

While she was obviously considering her role as mother to the son of God, 

she also knew his role as the Messiah was to save his people. 

While her faith led her to encourage Jesus in his ministry, beginning at Cana and continuing to the cross and grave, 

we are blessed by knowing all he did when he was on earth.