Sunday, 23 December 2012

An Homily for Advent IV with reference to Micah 5:2-5a, Hebrews 10:5-10 and Luke 1:39-45

Listen here.  
 Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.
From you SHALL come. Future for them, past and future for us. The One is Jesus who has come for us, will also come again and whose coming forth was, is, and will be, from of old, from ancient days.

Here's how some people reacted to that. Look at the Gospel. Jesus was coming. Look at the energy in the words! Mary was expecting so she
Lk 1:39 went with haste,
v41 Elizabeth’s baby leaped, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit and
v42 exclaimed with a loud cry.
Imagine the scene. Both of them excited. They were expecting babies. There were angels involved. Joseph hadn’t disowned Mary when he found she was pregnant. Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, hadn’t been as quick off the mark when then angel talked to him so he had been struck dumb. None of them really knew exactly where it was all heading. What must have seemed to be pretty strange stuff had been said about both babies. They were preparing, getting ready, for the births, yes; but for more. God was bringing something forth, something new, from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2) which meant a new future, not only for all of them, and for you and me.

Something new and good and mysterious was in the air which prompted Elizabeth to say to Mary
Lk 1:45 …blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.
Mary, likely a teen aged girl, the one who, because of her availability and obedience, Peter Kreeft, Christian philosopher and apologist, called "the greatest merely human being that ever lived," had heard what Gabriel, the angel of God, had to say, and despite having been greatly troubled (Lk 1:29) and wondering, How will this be? (v34) said
Luke 1:38 (ESV) …“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
She said it because she believed (v45). She went with haste (v39) to Elizabeth’s because she believed there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord (v45). Her availability, obedience and belief set her in motion.

Same with Jesus when he said
Hebrews 10:7 (ESV) …‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’
Same for you and me; even when we think we are too little (Micah 5:2) like Bethlehem, too old like Elizabeth, too young like Mary, struck dumb like Zechariah; but we are all servants of The Lord who have been placed right here, right now, on purpose, to do God’s will—which is to bring Jesus into our world, this world, the world of Newtown and Syria, of safe, happy Christmas family gatherings, of women’s shelters and pregnancy support centres, of peace and the joy of being sober for thirty-two days, as one of the guys who were visiting us a few weeks ago told me. So from us shall come forth for me (Micah 5:2), says the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, one who is to be ruler (Micah 5:2) of every aspect of your life, of this church, of Medicine Hat and beyond. This is my job and yours and we’re supposed to do it together.

New and good and mysterious things are still in the air. We’re all supposed to be expecting Jesus, spiritually pregnant, especially in Advent, but also all year round.

There will be labour. There are places you and I are being called to arise and go, perhaps even with haste, because we’ve been resisting the call and should have gone a long time ago or because the need is urgent. There are people you and I must go and greet because we carry Jesus in us. So be alert for them. Watch carefully.

There will be stretch marks, but let them be Marks of Mission. Look at the Marks of Mission on page one of your bulletin. They may help you to decide the where and who for you.

You and I must be ready to be filled with as much of the Holy Spirit as God wants.

There is good news that still needs to be exclaimed with a loud cry (Luke 1:42) because the noise of the world can drown it out and the volume is up on my spiritual ear buds which are connected to the music of my own sinful appetites.

There is a blessing waiting for you and me if we believe God wants to do something through us to further fulfill what was spoken to Mary from the Lord (Luke 1:45) and which led her to Bethlehem, the town that was too little, but which became the home of the biggest event ever.