“Where is God’s House?” Sermon 12.18.11

Luke 1:26-38 • December 18, 2011

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.

So – I guess the easiest and most obvious question to ask as we begin the 4th week in the season of Advent is, “Are you ready yet?” I mean you only have 6, maybe 7 days and a few hours to be ready, right? Do you have everything that you need to get, gotten? Do you have everything that you need to do, done? Do you have everyone you need to contact, contacted? Do you have everything that you need to cook, cooked or bake, baked? Well, do you? Are you ready, yet?

Now my guess is that nearly every one of us has an answer to that question today. And some of us have a great deal of anxiety when thinking about our answer to that question. But when I ask that question, you may be surprised to hear me say that I’m not referring to your preparations for Christmas next weekend.

In fact, I think our celebrations of Christmas often have very little to do with being children of God who are trying to follow Jesus Christ. As my own journey as a follower of Christ has unfolded, I actually care less and less about when or where or even how Jesus came. I care less and less about the historical events and details of the how, when, and where Jesus came into the world.

But each and every day of this life in Christ, I’m drawn deeper and deeper into the awe and wonder and amazement that is simply this – Jesus came.

Somewhere in the world, at some time that most Christians believe was around 2000 years ago, Jesus came. Not in a wild Hollywood entrance on a red carpet. Not swinging a sword on a chariot of power and conquest. Not in a massive expression of material wealth and spectacular possessions. Jesus, just came. And because of that brothers and sisters in Christ, the world has never been and never will be the same again.

I think the Dr. Seuss character the Grinch had a good point –

The Grinch was walking along with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow. He stood puzzling and puzzling:

“How could it be so?”

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!”

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “Doesn’t come from a store.”

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

I don’t think Mary was too concerned about presents or parties or ribbons or anything else when the angel Gabriel came to visit her. Mary wasn’t a woman of high social status in this little town. Mary wasn’t a famous politician or movie star. Mary was a simple ordinary everyday girl whom God had chosen to come to.

Maybe Mary’s conversation with the angel Gabriel went something like this – “You know what Gabe – I’m barely a teenager. I’m not ready to start a family just yet. I’ve barely had my first kiss much less anything else. And besides, my parents and Joseph and everyone else in this small hill-country town will kill me if I were to bring them news that I was pregnant. Gabriel, I believe you when you say that you’re an angel and all, but are you sure that you’re at the right address? That you have the right person and didn’t make a wrong turn along the way?”

I don’t know if that’s really what the conversation between Mary and Gabriel was like. Whatever it was – Mary did say that she was ready. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that God wasn’t asking her to go anywhere. Or speak to anyone. Or liberate a nation of slaves. God was asking her to have a child.

God’s child. God came to Mary.

And unlike others that we see in the biblical story, Mary doesn’t try and wiggle out of it. She didn’t try and say that she had a speech problem, like Moses did. She didn’t get on a boat and head in another direction like Jonah did. She didn’t laugh at God like Abraham and Sara did. She said “yes.” Or at the very least, a gentle, “ok.”

Professor Henry Langknecht from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio shared a fascinating insight about Mary this week. Professor Henry wrote, “Mary was visited by Gabriel and called by God to find a place, to make a home for Jesus. Her body was to be that place. Her womb was to be the home of God. Part of the mystery of the incarnation is that somehow the creator of every place and every home in the universe asked for and was granted a particular home in the womb of Mary of Nazareth.

Every day Christians are invited to live into Mary’s paradox of being the small place where the maker of all places can dwell.

Jesus lives in us as surely as we live in him. Mary’s “let it be so unto me” is our invitation to magnify the Lord by participating in God’s mission. Every time we provide a place, pour a drink, open a door, extend an invitation, ask someone to tell his or her story, make room or provide a home, Mary’s song becomes our song.”

So – are you ready? And your answer and my answer to that question will hopefully be the same just a few days before Christmas as it is in March or June or August next year. The good news of life in Christ that we celebrate at times of the year like this is not found in where or when or how Jesus came – but that Jesus did come and continues to be present in every one of our lives today.

I pray for God to bless you this week as you complete your preparation. And in the midst of preparations that may feel a little overwhelming or challenges that may be happening in your life that are anything but joyful or easy, I pray that you remember that Jesus came. That Jesus came to Mary, an ordinary young girl from Nazareth. And – that Jesus came for ordinary everyday people in western North Dakota like you and me too. May we discover once again in this last week of Advent, that God always chooses the ordinary to do something extraordinary. I think we’re ready.

Come Lord Jesus, come to us we pray. Amen.


About Bishop Craig Schweitzer

The Rev. Craig Schweitzer, of Bismarck, was elected as bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod on July 17, 2020, in the first-ever digital Synod Assembly. A historic event, Schweitzer is the first bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to be elected in an online assembly. Bishop Craig Schweitzer began serving the Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA on September 1, 2020. He has always seen himself as an easy-going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in his life and the world in which he lives and serves. Prior to service in the Office of Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod, Bishop Craig served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND as Music and Worship Minister (lay staff from 2002-2010), Associate Pastor (2010-2014), and Senior Pastor (2014-2020). Beyond his service in the church, he has an eclectic background that is a diverse collection of musical, educational, and business experiences ranging from live concert production and promotion to recording studios and live performance to music education. Throughout all of his professional and personal experiences, the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome have been a guiding light that has kept him grounded in whatever work God was calling him into – “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) Bishop Craig is a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership. He also holds a certificate degree in Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on September 16, 2010. Outside of his life as Bishop, Bishop Craig enjoys reading, all music, a little golf, a cold beverage with friends, and intentional times of quiet. And, of course, spending time with his wife Wendy and their adult twin daughters Ilia and Taegan. View all posts by Bishop Craig Schweitzer

2 responses to ““Where is God’s House?” Sermon 12.18.11

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