In pm's words
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December 10, 2018, 8:00 AM

the one about that message that is famous...


Sermon from December 9, 2018

Text: Luke 3:1-6

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, a few years ago I was doing things that I normally do when life slows down, and I’ve got a bit of free time – stalking on and perusing social media. Mostly Facebook. There is a particular comic strip that I enjoy quite often called Coffee with Jesus. I’ve shared a number of those strips myself and even have one posted on my office door.

This particular time, the panel was between Jesus (as always) and one of the regulars; ‘Carl.’ He asks Jesus who his favorite Christian artist is. Jesus replies that it’s a woman in a small village in Thailand who sings her heart out while farming. Carl’s annoyed response is, “Oh, so no one anyone’s ever heard of.’ The final panel has Jesus saying, “She won’t be touring the church circuit anytime soon, Carl, but she’s famous where I come from.”

I thought of that little comic strip as I read our gospel lesson for this morning.

We live in a world that finds power in the big, the bright, and the popular. We find ‘comfort’ at times in the individuals who are well known, and we expect others to fall in line with that train of thought. We, at times, even expect God to follow that sort of way of thinking as well; for if they are famous, well liked, wealthy, powerful, and more – obviously God likes them because without God’s blessings how could they be where they are?

As this third chapter of Luke begins, Luke places us within the history of all that is going down. He sets the stage of when this moment will occur – this new thing that God is preparing to do. He runs down a veritable ‘who’s – who’ of leaders at the time. Tiberius, Pilate, Herod, Annas, Caiaphas, and more. Powerful and well-known figures of the area and time. People who were looked up to and in some ways feared because of the might they held. Those individuals that most would consider to be extremely well love or liked by God, because of the power and positions they held.

And yet as powerful and well-known as they were, none of them is who the word of God came upon.

The Word of God came to John, son of Zechariah. Not only did the word of God come upon a person no one had ever heard of, but in a place far removed from the hubbub of the world.

This indeed is something different that God is doing.

Well. Not really.

God has always been in the habit of being made known in and through means and ways that are different from what the world traditionally lifts up. The work that God is up to always comes from those on the outskirts, those of non-traditional upbringings and lives, those who are unknown.

And, I think we really and truly forget that. We like to think that God’s grace, blessings, and very self come to those who are great, and wonderful, and powerful, and well-known. That God at times only speaks through those who have charisma, charm, good looks, bold ties, and powerful reach.

It doesn’t help that we constantly hoist individuals like that up to ‘speak’ for God and on God’s behalf so often.

Yet, as we begin this second week of the season of Advent, we again are introduced to one of the most odd characters in the bible. A man who comes from humble beginnings, who we later learn lives quite differently from the rest of the world. John was strange even for the times. Today, a person like John the Baptist wouldn’t speak to us in a three-piece suit with a well-manicured beard on national television. No, he’d probably be emerging from a cardboard box under an overpass somewhere on the corner of who cares, and I don’t know where.

This is how God comes and speaks to us. This is how God is made known to us. Through unconventional and interesting ways. And as odd as the messenger is – the message he proclaims is one that today we know so well, but still easily forget, and still need to remember and hold on to even more.

He preached and proclaimed a message of repentance and forgiveness. The messaged he proclaimed was one of promise and hope. He preached that no matter what – God’s love was not and is not removed from people – any people.

God’s love is there present with you. Always. God loves you and forgives you. In that love repent of those ways that draw you from God.

Those cross thoughts about someone who thinks differently than you? Repent, for God loves you.

The thing you keep doing that you know is wrong and could bring hurt to the relationships in your life? Repent, for God loves you.

Not being able to see the person before you as a beloved child of God – assuming they are evil, dirty, or a criminal – solely based on where they’ve come? Repent, for God loves you.

And all those people you’ve been ‘against’? Repent, for God loves them too.

And in that message that John proclaims, we can hear the prophet Isaiah as well. That one who spoke so boldly generations before about this God of love and forgiveness who brings things and life to fullness. Who will make the world see God’s loving presence in the world.

God will do, and has done, and continues to do all that. God continues to show up in our lives, through ways and means that we wouldn’t expect. Smoothing out those areas so that we might be able to see that love and presence more clearly and more vividly.

This word – this presence of being made known to the world – did not come to those who are powerful. It did not come to those with vast amounts of wealth, prestige, and popularity. It did not come to those with fancy clothes. It did not come to those who might be distractions.

Instead, the word of God came upon John. Son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He doesn’t look like someone we should listen to. He doesn’t live life in a way that many would jump in and join.

But, just as that comic I mentioned ended – John probably won’t be touring the church circuit anytime soon, but the message that he proclaims is pretty famous where Jesus comes from. Amen.


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