Christ Mountain Top, Advent 4
80.1-7, 17-19 (not used on Saturday)
7.10-16, advent wreath
to our world
to our world. The coming of Jesus …
of ourselves to break through the barriers and labels and welcome one another
as Christ has welcomed us.
margins, in solidarity with the vulnerable, in waiting for and expecting
justice for the oppressed.
control issues and learn to trust.
To Our World Chris Rice
are falling, hearts are breaking
we need to hear from God
been promised, we’ve been waiting
that you don’t mind our manger
I wish we would have known
long-awaited Holy Stranger
yourself at home
make yourself at home
finger sent to heal us
brow prepared for thorn
heart whose blood will save us
us is born
us is born
wrap our injured flesh around you
our air and walk our sod
our sin and make us holy
Son of God
Son of God
to our world
struggle to believe, to trust, in good things. Ever refused to accept a
compliment? Ever refused to trust in a too-good-to-be-true offer (even a true
one)? We protect ourselves from disappointment. We lower our expectations.
the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (Isaiah 7.10), we
reply like Ahaz. “I will not put the LORD to the test.” Good news at risk of
rejection by the best of people, us included.
we have been disappointed before. We’ve had our expectations dashed before.
TV ad: Man reading paper, ignoring woman
the sleeper sofa …
wonder we struggle to believe. No wonder we reject outright the good news that
a great candidate for the job, but someone else was hired.
can’t hear it.
treat it like a trick question.
Brown falls for it. Every time.
unfaithful to you. God got her pregnant, in an asexual, miraculous way.” In
what world is that believable?
struggle to believe is an age-old problem. It shows up over and over throughout
God promises to save Israel through Moses, but Moses tries to exercise an “opt
but Gideon has to give God a series of elaborate tests before he commits.
receives the announcement of John’s birth from an angel while he is worshiping
in the temple, but doesn’t believe it.
sign, for Israel’s deliverance and he refuses outright.
was too shocked and upset to allow her to tell the full story. At least he
didn’t want to make a fool of her. And fortunately, he trusted the word of the
two main characters in our stories today, Ahaz and Joseph, are both offered
signs. Both signs are of the birth of a child who is “Immanuel”, “God with us”.
One accepts, one rejects. Either way, the sign will be given, the deliverance
will be offered. But only one of the two receives the gift.
Ahaz, it was about more than struggling with disappointment and dashed
expectations. For Ahaz, it was also about his own image. “I’m not presumptive
before God.” For Ahaz, it was also about his relationship with God to that
point, which was pretty adversarial. When things got bad for him, he plundered
the temple of God and used the wealth to buy an alliance. He copied the worship
and altar of the Assyrians. Ahaz was about power. But he missed out on the gift
Dad negotiating a grant with a school district superintendent. Folks who focus
on control miss out on the gift that only comes by faith, only comes through
Charlie Brown was right after all. He never learns not to trust Lucy. But he
has learned to trust.
what sets Joseph apart from Ahaz. He is introduced as “a righteous man,”
something that the Scripture defines as living by faith (Habakkuk 2.4, Romans
1.17, Galatians 3.11, Hebrews 10.38). He’s learned to trust, despite the
disappointments that he has endured. He lives by faith, despite the dashed
hopes and expectations in his personal experience.
wonder the apostle Paul describes his calling as bringing “the obedience of
faith” to the Gentiles (Romans 1.5). Such obedience is a resounding “amen” to
God’s good news in Jesus “descended from David according to the flesh” and
“declared the Son of God with power by resurrection from the dead” (Romans