Sermon by Rev. Roth as part of Concordia Publishing House’s “What Child Is This” Series
Introit Psalm 89:14-16, 18; antiphon: Zechariah 9:9b, alt.
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation.
Who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord?
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessèd are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
who exult in your name all the day
and in your righteousness are exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.
Collect of the day
Merciful Father, You opened Elizabeth’s barren womb and blessed her with a son who pointed the world to the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Grant boldness to Your Church, that in these latter days, the Church would not be silent but proclaim Christ and Him crucified, for He is our only hope for salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading/Old Testament Isaiah 40:1-5
Comfort, comfort My people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Psalm 25:1-7; antiphon Isaiah 40:3
A: A voice cries: “In the wilderness
prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in You I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for You shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know Your ways, O LORD;
teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
for You are the God of my salvation;
for You I wait all the day long.
Remember Your mercy, O LORD, and Your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to Your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of Your goodness, O LORD!
Second Reading/Epistle Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Holy Gospel Reading Luke 1:5-25
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”