December 1, 2023
Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, 26 - 28
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
Are you looking forward to Christmas? Are you looking forward to the letter carrier delivering lots of Christmas letters and parcels again? The American 13 cent stamp shows a full mailbox. It's so full that you can't even close it. Bare trees and snow are showing: it's winter, it's going to be Christmas! The anticipation of Christmas is coming!
The special German stamp with the text "Happy birthday" is a completely different story. It was intended for birthday greetings and reminds me what Christmas is really about: Jesus is born. This is a very special birthday. It is the most important birthday in the history of the world! We are celebrating the birth of the Messiah Jesus. The Savior and Redeemer from sin, death and the devil is born.
There was no cake in the stable in Bethlehem back then, and no candles for Jesus either. But lots of joy! Heaven rejoices and sends Mary a heavenly messenger, the angel Gabriel. He tells her what is unimaginable: Mary, this inconspicuous, unknown and unmarried young woman will become the mother of the Messiah. God becomes man. At first, Mary cannot grasp this message. Mary first has to grasp this news. But then she can rejoice and praise God.
The angel greets Mary on God's behalf with these wonderful words: "Greetings! You are blessed with great grace! The Lord is with you!” Those whom God greets in this way must rejoice! I want to listen to this message of joy and rejoice, too. God gives us his love and grace through Jesus Christ. He is and remains with us!
There must be about two thousand candles burning on Jesus' birthday cake by now. A lot of time has passed since then. But we Christians celebrate Advent and rejoice in the birth of our Lord Jesus. We await his arrival. We rejoice in the lights that decorate the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree. But what should really "burn" is the joy of Jesus' birth. It makes the heart burn.
I hope that you can also share this joy at the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ with others. Let us share it with our families, friends, work colleagues and neighbors. Perhaps the spark of joy will spread and take hold of their hearts too?
I wish you a blessed Advent season and look forward to seeing you on December 15. I look forward to hearing the Christmas message with you and looking at two or three very beautiful stamps. Until then, I wish you God's blessing and protection in spirit, soul and body through our Lord Jesus Christ.