The Fourth Sunday in Advent at Hope, Jerseyville
12/23/18 Pastor Simek
“Our Little Salvation”
Sermon Text: Micah 5:2-5a
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
What does a drop of water, a crumb from a loaf of bread, and a town about the size of Hardin have to do with one another? They are all pretty seemingly insignificant things. A single drop of water isn’t going to be enough to do much of anything with. Even if we were to give a corn stalk or a bean shoot a drop of water a day all summer, that probably wouldn’t be enough to keep it alive much less for it to grow or produce anything. A crumb of bread isn’t going to be enough food for anything other than maybe an ant, but even then a small crumb may not be worth the effort.
Now Hardin, it is the biggest town in Calhoun with a little under 1,000 people and the county seat so it has a few things, but when I searched the internet for things in Hardin I got mention of a couple restaurants and a bar and that’s about it. No disrespect to Hardin, but there just simply isn’t a lot there. It’s hardly mentionable, and the same is true for Bethlehem. It was a notable city, the city of David and all, but with a population about 1,000 at best guess it still wasn’t really a city of mention. In fact, even the prophesy of Micah that says that it is in Bethlehem where the Christ will be born, it also says that it is a city “who (is) too little to be among the clans of Judah,” which is to say that it doesn’t even really count and it’s too small to be numbered among the cities of Judah.
And I supposed you could include Mary in this list of nothing. She is a nearly nameless, a completely un-notable girl. Well, she was in the line of David, but so were a lot of people by now. And her betrothed husband was from the line of David, but again that’s nothing special. He was just a carpenter after all. Now John the Baptist, he was something. His father, Zechariah was a priest, on who had been chosen by lot, which is by chance or by God depending upon what you believe in, to offer a sacrifice in the temple. That would have been a notable and honorable job to do even if it was only once in a lifetime. And both the mother and father of John had a reputation. Luke says they were righteous before God, blameless, yet barren even in their old age and so when Elizabeth became pregnant, well that was a miracle. But a younger girl pregnant outside of marriage, well that’s nothing special. If anything it was more of an embarrassment.
And isn’t that often how we see the work, the will, and the ways of God? They are maybe just routine at best. Church is hardly a mentionable thing. It’s something we have to squeeze into this Christmas season. We make plans with family and friends to have parties and exchange gifts which is great, but then we have to figure out if there are any services we can make it to with our busy schedule. Well maybe we can make it to one service because we are just too busy to go to all of them.
Or perhaps church is less than unmentionable, but is an embarrassment. You know, with all the family in town who have their own churches, maybe they are Lutheran or maybe they are not. But their church isn’t like ours. We are still stuck in our ways and our pastor wears that silly white collar and those long white dresses, and man, you should have seen him last week, he wore pink! And nothing really cool happens during the service. It’s just the same old stuff. There are no special effects, no fog machines or strobe lights to really wow anyone. There’s no big screen with a booming sound system, you know the kind where you can feel the boom in your gut, though pastor does yell sometimes. Let’s go to the movies instead.
And I think the same thing can be said of the Sacraments. What’s the big deal with a little drop of water with some magic words? A crumb of bread? A little cardboard tasting cracker and half a sip of wine? That’s no meal. And we certainly wouldn’t want to tell people about how we practice these things. How do we tell our Baptist family that we baptize infants? Well I better not bring my non-denominational family to church because I really don’t want to have to explain closed communion to them. It would be easier just not to go or not to talk about it, let it be an unmentionable.
But from the unmentionable comes our salvation. From nothing comes everything. From nothing God spoke into the darkness and created light. From nothing God made all that was made just by speaking. God created everything that was made through His Word and without the Word was not anything that was made. And in just a day and two we will celebrate that Word becoming flesh.
Today, we celebrate that Word become flesh in the womb of Mary. We celebrate the notable child of Zechariah and Elizabeth in her womb, jumping in praise. Today, we celebrate the faith of John the Baptist while he was still in his mother’s womb because of who was in the womb of Mary. Today, we celebrate Mary, an unmentionable woman who is pregnant outside of marriage, a humble, small, insignificant servant of God who is now called blessed by every generation because God exalted her to be the mother of our Lord: Mary, the mother of God.
And today, we celebrate that little town of Bethlehem, so small and insignificant it wasn’t even numbered among the cities of Judah, but it brought forth the ruler of Israel, the King of kings and Lord of lords whose origins are from old, ancient, pre-creation days who is now the peace of all creation. Today, we celebrate His cross, His unmentionable, undesirable, folly and stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles alike. We celebrate that Jesus was crucified and suffered a shameful, intolerably painful death for the sins of the whole world. And we celebrate that He rose up again from that death to speak to the world that word it had been waiting to hear since the fall of Adam and Eve: “Peace.”
And today, in this un-notable, ordinary, routine Sunday morning, in a church that is probably not even a quarter full, with voices that are more likely to be off key than on it, with a pastor who is stubborn and stuck in his ways still wearing that goofy robe, although at least it’s with blue this time, but in these things we celebrate and receive that glorious work of God for our salvation. None of this maybe any more special than Mary or Bethlehem, but in this unimportant nothing, God delivers to you that Word made flesh in the womb of Mary, dead on the cross, and risen from the dead.
With just a drop of water, poured upon you in your Baptism, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God washes you in the blood of the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world and makes you part of the flock of our Good Shepherd. With a tasteless piece of bread and a swallow of wine, what could be a crumb and a drop, God feeds you with the body and blood of Christ, forgives you all your sins, gives to you eternal life, and grants you salvation. From nothing, God gives to you your Savior. From nothing, God gives you peace. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.