Readings: Isaiah 40:1-11, Mark 1:1-8
And this week, we heard God’s word to Isaiah: Speak—say to and show the world “Here is your God!”; as well as “Prepare the way of the Lord” —in your own hearts, and for your neighbor in the world.
God cares about specific people, not just people in some abstract, general way. Jesus did not come for some generic salvation from some abstract sin. It can feel like that as we read some of these stories, 2000 years removed from their historical setting. Jesus’ presence is specific, Jesus’ love is precise. We follow Christ, the Messiah, God’s revelation of God’s self, who showed us that God acts and speaks for peace and justice, for real people- in real time. God walks with, and stands up for the people who most need it.
What does God’s incarnated presence mean for us today? Let me put that in better language: What does the birth of Jesus mean, for you? And what does it mean that Jesus Christ is coming again—especially since it’s been nearly 2000 years since anyone’s seen him as he was described in the Gospels?
The message today, to help frame our answers to those questions is: We don’t follow just some abstract savior who cleanses and forgives us of our sins, who blesses us and our country for worshiping him. We follow the second person of the Trinity, God who was made a human. We follow Christ, the Messiah, who ministered to, and served, and healed the people around him. We follow the one who, in real time and place, saw, listened to, and spoke out for orphans and widows, poor and downtrodden. We follow the one who called the rich and the privileged to see that putting God first means exalting the bowed-down-ones, and humbling oneself.
God cares for everyone, and when God is put first, our own lives and words bring about Jesus’ kingdom, his reign, for those around us.
Jesus identifies himself with the hungry, thirsty, stranger, sick, naked, imprisoned. He bids us, keep awake and aware of his presence now and his coming again. We long for, along with all the world, the message: “Here is your God!”
The incarnation of God—Jesus’ Birth—means that Jesus is with you, specifically. You are his, and he will never leave you—neither in life, nor in death. It means that you are his mouthpiece, his hands, his feet: empowered by the Holy Spirit to make a difference in the world: To see where his kingdom is now, to proclaim that presence, and to be a partner in his working peace and justice for all, which begins with the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned.
Whatever Jesus’ birth, his coming, means for you in particular: the news is this--
Here is your God! He comes with might, and he comes as a shepherd to feed his flock.
Lift the valleys and flatten the hills, prepare the Lord’s way.
Lord Jesus, Come and Reign.