Summary: An Advent Sermon about the peace that only Christ can give.
“God with Us: He is Our Peace”
It was during Advent of 2012, when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, and 6 adult staff members.
Earlier that day, Lanza shot and killed his mother.
This year we are still reeling from killings and protests--some violent--as well as political upheaval and a pandemic the likes of which none of us have experienced in our life-times.
And these things will be added to in 2021 no matter what we do.
There is a reason God had to go so far as to become one of us and come into this world to save us.
The problem of evil is THAT bad, THAT tortured, THAT unresolvable from our side of things.
Immanuel means “God with us.”
That is the message we need.
It is our only hope.
Remember when the Magi from the East came to Jerusalem expecting to find the King of the Jews?
They asked, “Where is he?
We have seen his star when it rose and we have come to worship him.”
The experts in the Law told them: “Bethlehem.”
And the evidence they used for this was our Scripture Passage for this morning from Micah 5: “But you, Bethlehem…though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are of old, from ancient times.”
Isn’t it interesting that God uses something so small to do something so great?
I mean, Bethlehem is barely worth counting among the clans of Judah—it’s a one camel town--yet God chooses to be born there.
One reason, I think, is the God of the Universe is actually a humble God.
And why wouldn’t God be humble?
God is the Creator of the world.
The Creator of us and all that is.
What does God have to prove?
God is also Love.
And love is humble, patient, kind.
Love doesn’t lord it over on others, love seeks to lift others up.
Love stoops down.
And so, God stooped down and was born in a small, backwater town…
…because that is what Love does.
And furthermore, God chose a stable over an inn, God chose a manger over a crib and God chose a Cross over a mighty army.
He didn’t have to—He just did, because that is what Love does.
God came into this world, not as some scary, overpowering tyrant—but as a helpless baby.
A poor, homeless, helpless baby born in the middle of nowhere to two peasant parents.
And that’s the way Love does things.
Has anyone ever made you feel small?
What was it about that person that made you feel small?
Perhaps it was their stunning good looks.
According to Isaiah Chapter 53, Jesus wasn’t extraordinarily handsome.
What else has there been about others that has made you feel small?
Maybe it was that they were so-called “popular” and excluded those who they deemed not up to their standards.
Isaiah also tells us that Jesus was “despised and rejected…,” like one “from whom people hide their faces,” and was held in “low esteem.”
I mean, think about the people Jesus hung out with while on this earth.
He certainly wasn’t part of the “in-crowd” so to speak.
His buddies were poor, uneducated fishermen, despised tax collectors, down and out prostitutes and lepers—the so-called losers of this world.
In our high school we called these kinds of people: “dirt-bags.”
No one wanted to be seen with them.
The “popular” Pharisees, Sadducees and experts in the Law made fun of Jesus and looked down on Him and his gang of ragtag friends.
So, when we think about it, the God of the universe purposely came to this earth, was born under questionable circumstances to peasant parents, in a dirty stable.
During His life He hung out with the losers and was bullied by the “cool kids.”
And because He wouldn’t bend to the “status quo” He was “pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities the punishment that brought us peace was on him.
And by his wounds we are healed.”
All because, that is what Love does.
Love doesn’t look down on others; love doesn’t seek to make others feel small in order to lift oneself up.
And love is not insecure.
As a matter of fact, in 1st John, we are told that there is “no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
So, Jesus was born in little, insignificant Bethlehem.
And Micah foretells that “He will stand and shepherd his flock…and they will live securely…”
Oh, to live securely.
Is this not what all of humankind yearns for.