Worship Sunday at 10:30

Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

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Advent 12/21/2014

The choir will be the primary proclaimer of the word today, but prior to that a few words about Mary are in order. Every year, after three weeks of lessons that only hint at the Christmas story, the Fourth Sunday of Advent always brings us closer to what some might like to hear throughout December, that being more direct references to Christmas. This Fourth Sunday always includes mention of Mary, but in this year B of the lectionary cycle she is a particular emphasis. Lutherans don’t tend to give Mary the same degree of reverence that Catholic and Orthodox Christians do, but that may be our loss and I really don’t think it’s what Luther himself intended. He was opposed to the practice of praying to Mary as an intercessor, feeling that we didn’t need that, that we could instead offer our prayers directly to Jesus. But, apart from that, he and those who followed him had high regard for Mary. In the Formula of Concord it says that “She is rightly called and truly is the Mother of God.”

Obviously, Mary is the mother of Jesus and in our Christian understanding of things, that also makes her the Mother of God, but in Luke’s gospel, Mary is also portrayed as a model disciple. She is the first to hear the good news or the gospel concerning Jesus; she is the first to hear it and accept it and proclaim it all of which identifies her as a disciple. Now the vocation of discipleship is not the main focus of today’s text which primarily serves to set the stage for the Christmas story, but Mary as a disciple who hears and accepts and proclaims the gospel is part of it.

As Luke tells it though, just what did Mary hear and accept and proclaim? The key verse is “For nothing will be impossible with God.” In order for Mary, or any of us, to be a disciple, that truth, “nothing will be impossible with God,” has to be accepted. It’s not always easy to do that. We all have our moments when it seems like nothing can change, that nothing new is possible except a rearranging of that which already is. At other times though, we’re able to break through that wall of cynicism, we’re able let down our guard of reason and rationality and with the imagination and faith of Mary we accept the possibility of what sounds and seems impossible.

I think we do this better at Christmas than at other times. It can be a busy, even hectic time but hopefully we allow ourselves to have those moments where we can just dwell in the wonder and mystery of it all. For many of us, the music of Christmas plays a role in helping to make that happen. Music always has the capacity to move us emotionally, but perhaps even more so at Christmas whether it’s the old familiar songs and hymns and carols or if it’s a church choir offering their annual Advent/Christmas gift. That’s what we have for you today. Bob and Linda and the rest of the choir present to you this year’s cantata, “One Single Name, Jesus.”

Rev. Warren Geier


Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor

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one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever
welcomes me welcomes
not me
but the
one who
sent me.”


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