As people of faith, we need constant reminders that God’s love is a way of life for us as the people of God here on earth.
December 19, 2021
A Room with a View: Love
Micah 5:2 -5; Luke 1: 46-55
Pastor Heather McColl
Micah 5:2-5; Luke 1:46-55
As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days. Therefore, he will give them up until the time when she who is in labor gives birth. The rest of his kin will return to the people of Israel. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. They will dwell secure, because he will surely become great throughout the earth; he will become one of peace.
Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.
A Room with a View: Love Micah 5:2-5; Luke 1: 46-55
Here, we are, the fourth week of Advent and today, we are talking about love. You would think this would have been an easy sermon to write. We talk about love all the time as people of faith. I’m not sure we go a Sunday where love isn’t mentioned somewhere in our service. It is usually mentioned in our prayers. It is usually mentioned in the sermon. And I know love is definitely mentioned in the moments surrounding communion time in the service. As people of faith, we talk about love all the time.
So if that is the case, why on earth was this sermon, this sermon about making room for the Holy, about love waiting to be born in us today and all days, why on earth was this sermon on love so difficult to write?
Let me tell you, as soon as I asked myself that question, I knew I had my answer. Love shouldn’t be something we just talk about in our worship service as people of faith. Instead, Love should be the force which shapes our words and actions. Love should be the force which reminds us that God is still at work in our world. Love should be the force which transforms us, which brings forth new life for all of God’s creation.
Love should be the defining force, the guiding force, the leading force in our world. But sad to say, more often than not, it seems like love is not a force in our world. Rather, it gets buried in people’s search for power and might. Rather, we hear more about humankind’s brokenness than about the transforming power of God’s love.
Maybe that’s why it is so hard to talk about God’s love in our world today because we honestly wonder if it even still exists. It seems like everything in our world, everything about our world tells us that God’s love is a thing from a distant past, that we are fools for believing that love still exists, let alone believing love has the power to change the world.
Now before we all get too depressed on this joyous Sunday, I will tell you, I’m okay with being considered foolish. And thankfully, regardless of what our news headlines tell us, we all still believe love has the power to change the world. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t. We believe God’s love does have the power to change the world. We are counting on it. We are depending on it. We know that God’s love does have the power to transform this world into God’s Kingdom here on earth because we have experienced it in our own lives. Which is why these scriptures shared by prophets in our sacred story who experienced the same thing are perfect for this Sunday.
We hear today a wonderful reminder from both the Old Testament and the New Testament that God’s love is here, that God’s love will always be here, that God’s love does have the power to change the world.
Our sacred text reminds us that since the beginning of time, our world has been full of God’s love. Long before the angels and the shepherds appeared. Long long before Joseph took everyone to Bethlehem, our world has been, is now, and forever will be full of God’s steadfast love.
The reason why I want us all to remember this fact and even more importantly, the reason why this fact matters to us as people of faith is because deep down, we all need to hear that the moment, the moment when Love came down to live among the people of God, the moment that makes God’s love real for us is more than just a story. We need to hear that it was more than just a moment in time. As people of faith, we need constant reminders that God’s love is a way of life for us as the people of God here on earth.
And Micah’s and Mary’s words do just that. They remind us that “to praise God for having already done what lies before us to do is the way of the people of God. They remind us to celebrate the future as memory because we have this momentum of hope to strengthen us, to empower us, to encourage us to become the people of love God created and calls us to be. Micah and Mary remind us that the ways of God are not the ways of this world, that God is doing a new thing where the old is made new and the familiar is made strange. Mary and Micah remind us to expect the Holy Spirit to show up in powerful and life changing ways.
Or let me say it this way…the world rushes us to December 24th and then when we get there, it speeds us on to December 25th. Then on December 26th, the world starts rushing us to shove the manger back into the storage shed again. Why? You ask. For one simple reason: Because the world wants us to think that if we rush by Bethlehem, if we minimize the significance of the moment when God became flesh and lived among us, the world thinks if it can limit God’s incarnation to just one day, then it can also limit the impact of God’s love on the world. The world thinks if it can get us to ignore the scene in the manger, then it can also limit the life-changing, the life transforming effect God’s love has on this world. And if the world can do that, then the world wins right?
But we as people of faith know differently. We know that The manger can be put away but the stars at night tell of God’s love and glory. We know that The shepherds can be put out to pasture again but the world cannot silence the angels’ chorus. As people of faith, we know that The world can turn the page on the calendar and declare that the season of giving is over but that doesn’t change the fact that our world has been given and continues to be given the greatest gift each and every day. We have been given the gift of God’s steadfast love.
Or in the words of another prophet, this time a prophet from Kentucky, Bell Hooks, who proclaimed: “ LOVE REDEEMS. Despite all the lovelessness that surrounds us, nothing has been able to block our longing for love, the intensity of our yearning. The understanding that love redeems appears to be a resilient aspect of the heart’s knowledge. The healing power of redemptive love lures us and calls us towards the possibility of healing. We cannot account for the presence of the heart’s knowledge. Like all great mysteries, we are all mysteriously called to love no matter the conditions of our lives, the degree of our depravity or despair. The persistence of this call gives us reason to hope.”
For us gathered here, for us watching online, for the people in our community and beyond, It has always been about God’s love power to change and transform our world. It has always been about love redeeming us, claiming us and naming us as God’s own. It has always been about the Spirit moving in and among, waiting for love to be born in us, waiting for love to be born through us for all of God’s creation. It has always been about God doing a new thing, reminding us, reminding all of God’s people that this world will never have the last word. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, December 19, 2021 – A Room with a View: Love Micah 5:2-5; Luke 1: 46-55