This sermon was preached at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Holliston, MA on December 7, 2014.
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins.
3A voice cries out:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
6A voice says, "Cry out!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever.
9Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
"Here is your God!"
10See, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.\
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
Tomorrow, Dec. 8, 2014 would have been Carrie’s Grandmother’s 100th Birthday.
Now, Mamie won’t make it to 100. She died just over 3 years ago, having lived almost 97 years. In the last days of those years, Mamie, like many others, went into hospice care, where the focus of the care she received could be on comforting her, as her body, like grass, withered and faded away.
When Mamie went to Hospice, she received great care, and her family got to spend time with her in a beautiful setting. Through those things, and the love shown her, I’m sure that she heard God saying to her, “Comfort, O comfort my Mamie.”
But, while she was there, in the final days of her life, Mamie also had work to do. Mamie, in a way that had been the case for most of her life, was called to prepare a highway for God, in the hearts of those around her. So, at one point, Mamie asked her doctor, “Is there anything I can pray about for you?” And, the doctor, in I’m sure a very appreciative way, said “no, thank you.” Yet Mamie, the fading flower, kept asking her fit, competent doctor, who was there to provide her comfort, if there was anything she could pray for him about. Finally, the doctor said, “Yes, could you pray for my family, and especially my son, we’ve been having a rough time with him.” And Mamie did.
Yes, “the grass withers, the flower fades” but Truly! “the word of our God will stand forever.”
This word was Mamie’s hope, through her, it became her doctor’s hope, and this word, the word of our God, is the hope of all of us. This is the word of God, that has been made known to us through Jesus Christ, through his actions, his teachings, his love, and his life, that has been poured out for us. Jesus, our eternal hope, has prepared the way of the Lord, into our hearts, into our very lives.
And during this season of Advent, we await, we prepare for that hope to come into our lives more and more. But sometimes, we overthink this. We wonder, and stress, and get anxious about our lives, what the Lord is doing in them, and even what the Lord is doing in our lives together as a congregation. We grow concerned and worried about our future, and instead of hearing God say, “Comfort, O comfort my people” our own issues get in the way, and all we hear are our own voices saying things like “you better not mess this up.” “you better have yourself all put together.” Or “you better not have anything that someone could pray for you about.”
We overthink things, searching for permanency in our lives, and forgetting that indeed, people, like grass and flowers, wither and fade. We overthink things in our lives, in an effort to get ourselves up on a high pedestal and say, “this is me”, when the Lord, simply says, “Get you up to a high mountain and say, ‘Here Is your God!”.
This morning, though we aren’t on a high mountain, I lift my voice to bring you good tidings, “HERE IS YOUR GOD!” Here he is, in bread, and wine, giving his eternal body, his eternal life to us, and our withering bodies.
“HERE IS YOUR GOD!” he’s here, giving you love and comfort through a family of sisters and brothers whose he’s given to us to share this eternal life with.
“HERE IS YOUR GOD!” he’s here in the scriptures we read and proclaim, speaking to us through ancient words and ancient people about a love that is mightier than even empires and civilizations.
“HERE IS YOUR GOD!” he’s here in the prayers we lift up, in the genuine concern we have for a world, a creation, a country, and a community in need.
“HERE IS YOUR GOD!” he’s here in the festive joy we celebrate at this time of year. He’s here in the hope and expectation of new beginnings, and in the warm remembrances of the past.
“HERE IS YOUR GOD!” he’s here, transforming our sin, our hate, our bitterness, our selfishness, and our hurt, into new life.
“HERE IS YOUR GOD!” he’s here, saying, “Comfort, O comfort my people” through the prayer shawls you make, the food you provide, the hospitality you give to the homeless, the care ministry you give, the songs you sing, and all that you do, proclaiming with your lives, “HERE IS YOUR GOD!”
Our God, Jesus Christ is here, and every day, by the power, the might of his love, he enters into our lives, and our world, to give his saving grace. And, though we are grass, though we wither, and even while we wither, we remember during this Advent season, as we go out into the world, that:
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,