As God reveals His plan of salvation for the world, we see embodied the truth which God speaks: “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord” (Is. 55:8). The Feast which we observe today, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, is part of what St. Luke records as the lead-in to the birth of Christ. We see again proof that God does not function in the ways we would. He does not send His Son to be born of a powerful or wealthy family, but into poverty and derision, and by circumstances which prove that God has His hand involved. By the birth of Christ, and especially in Mary’s hymn, which we still sing today, we understand that God’s work and His eyes are in the depths, but man only in the height.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.