December Message from Pastor Nickel

Able and Willing

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.  For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”        – Luke 1:46-49

It was an unplanned pregnancy to an unmarried young woman from a good family.   Mary about 2020 years ago, you might guess?  Yes, …but also a teenager from a Lutheran pastor’s family in Sanford, Florida just recently.  

Can you imagine the conversation?  “Dad, Mom, I’ve got something to tell you….”   Imagine this young teenager’s fear before talking with her parents.  How would they react?  What would they say?  And then what would they do?  What would she do?

Well, her parents reacted in love.  They told her they still loved her, and that she is forgiven, both by God and by them, for Jesus’ sake.  And they spoke humbly to her in truth.  The truth is difficult sometimes, because the truth forces us to deal with situations that we would rather not be in.  Dealing with the truth does not mean seeking an easy way out – if there even is such a thing in such circumstances.  Together, they confronted the truth in mutual love, forgiveness and support.

Together, daughter and parents spoke to her father’s congregation – about 55 souls that Sunday morning – explaining the situation honestly, openly and humbly.   And the faithful people of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer loved her, just as Christ loved them.   They took out a loan to buy a house for her – and founded a maternity home for her and 7 other unmarried mothers – to deal with the truth of an unplanned baby in love, forgiveness and support.  And last weekend, at the conference I attended, Lutheran Christians from across these United States of America embraced them in love and compassion and donated some $37,000 to support these Christians who are stepping out boldly in faith, hope and love, all because of what a baby born to Mary some 2000 years ago – Jesus –  did for her, and for us.

I invite you to re-read these 4 short verses once again, imagining you are hearing them spoken by this young mother.  Perhaps you will hear in them something of how Mary felt.

This song of Mary’s strengthens our faith in our mighty God.  It comforts those who are humble.  (And it should humble those who are comfortable.)  But Mary didn’t sing it just for herself or about herself.  She invites us into her song to give glory to God – our God.

The great works that God has done don’t comfort you unless you have faith that God is capable of doing them today.   And God’s great works don’t comfort you if you don’t believe God is willing to do them for you.   Believing that He does them for others, but not you, only puts yourself beyond the reach of what God wants to do for you.   That’s the road to despair.  Yet through the ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem, Jesus has already accomplished the greatest work of all – your redemption and mine.

So have no doubts about God’s intentions towards you.  Believe that He is able to do great things for you.  Believe that He is willing to do great things for you, no matter the cost to Himself.  That is faith that’s alive.  That’s faith that permeates all aspects of your life and transforms you.  That’s faith that dares to inhale deeply the truth of an almighty God who loves you – an awesome God who is able and willing to forgive even your biggest sin and transform your defeat into victory through Christ.

May the Son of God, who took on human flesh through Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, keep you in the one true faith this Christmas and forever.

~Pastor Nickel