Is 34 young or old?, Random Molecules, & Buddy the Elf

A short First Advent sermon, based on Isaiah 64:1-9

We start Advent in the depths of Isaiah with a poem begging God to come down and shake the mountains.  That God would enter our world like brushfire to make God’s name known among the nations.  That God would come and save us.

Throughout Scripture, we often read calls for God to come and intervene in our world.  Life seems out of control, and we call to God for help.

I’m 34 years old, and while some of you think that 34 is really really old, and others of you think 34 is still really really young, but no matter, after being alive for 34 years, I am still amazed at how much we strive for control.  Control over our lives, our jobs, our finances, our health, our faith life.  We love control so much that we even invented buttons to close elevator doors faster.

But then, even as we strive for control, there are reminders everywhere that we are not in control.  There will always be natural disasters.  All our bodies will eventually stop doing what we want them to do.  Grief unexpectedly rears its head and simple tasks become daunting.  Let alone all the times where the mistakes we make come back and relentlessly haunt our thoughts.

In the midst of our broken world, we cry out for healing.  In the midst of our own brokenness, we cry out for healing.   We cry out for God.

Here’s one of the many things about calling out to God.  When we cry out to God, we don’t really get to be in charge anymore, do we?  By calling out, we give God permission to shape us.

We invite God be the Potter, and we let ourselves be the clay.

A lump of clay that is not in control anymore.

On one hand, I acknowledge that that is really depressing.   The image of a boat that has run out of gas just being tossed around by ocean waves comes to mind.

But on the other hand, if we really are a lump of clay, then it is absolutely audacious that we believe God has breathed life into us and cares about us.  It is audacious that we have hope that our existence is more than a bunch of random molecules making up our flesh and bones.

It is audacious that that we gather at First Advent in anticipation of God coming to live among us.   It is audacious that God relinquishes controls and enters our frail, human existence as a child. It is audacious that the Potter becomes the clay.

As mentioned earlier, our theme this Advent is “Let it be.”

When Mary, the mother of Jesus, is visited by an angel and told that her child is the son God and his reign will never end, she responds with the words “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  Luke 1:38

Let it be.

For some of us, we approach Advent with a sense of hope, excitement, and enthusiasm.  I’ve seen some of your Instagram feeds, and you’ve had Christmas trees up for weeks already.  The words “Let it be” can be so easy and natural. buddy

At Christmastime, we give, we sing, we share, we laugh, we decorate, the world is beautiful,we act like Buddy the Elf, and we can get onboard with Mary saying yes to God.  We got this.  It’s go time, God.  You’re coming into our world to cheer our spirits and disperse the gloomy clouds of night and put death’s dark shadows to flight.  Let’s build a mountain of toys!  Let it be.

For others of us, the words “Let it be” are a cry to God for help, because the darkness is overwhelming.  We cling to hope that that Jesus can set us free from Satan’s tyranny and save us from the depths of hell and give victory over the grave.  “Let it be” God, because we need you to come and order all things far and nigh.  “Let it be.”

Across the spectrum, from it’s the most wonderful time of the year and peace on Earth to all people to the depths of darkness and struggle, Let it Be, O God.  That is our cry to you.  That is our plea.  Let it be is us joining you in relinquishing control.  Let it be is us giving you consent for you to change our lives.  Let it be is us giving you consent to change our world.  Let it be is us hoping that the light will come and overtake the darkness.

O come O come Emmanuel.

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