Cross of Grace

A community of grace sharing God's love with no strings attached.

Summer Sunday Worship:
8:30 am & 10 am
(Begins Memorial Day Weekend, May 26th)

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Can You Hear Me Now? - Luke 2

I know this may seem like old news now, and I can’t believe it’s been something like 7 years since this commercial was running around the clock – and that I haven’t used it in a sermon before now, frankly. But for some reason, it came to mind as I wondered about Christmas this time around – that knucklehead wandering around in the streets and in the wilderness and around the world like that, searching for a signal.

“Can you hear me now?” “Can you hear me now?” “Can you hear me now?”

But I was thinking about all the ways God had tried to get our attention through the ages; all the ways God had showed up for humanity since time began. And I imagine God feeling something like that knucklehead wandering around in the cosmos tossing stuff into our midst to see what would stick; what we would notice; what we might, finally hear and heed.

Because God had tried, time and again, in some pretty creative ways, to get our attention. There was that “sound in the Garden,” way back in Genesis, that showed up for Adam and Eve “at the time of the evening breeze,” once. And most of us know how that story ended, right? They listened, but ignored it. They disobeyed and were banished. (“Can you hear me now?”) So much God and the evening breeze.

And there were those days for the Israelites, as they wandered around in the wilderness, looking for home, longing for guidance, searching for something to follow. God offered up a pillar of cloud for them, during the day. And God offered up a pillar of fire for them, by night. That seemed to be a thing, but still wasn’t enough to do the trick. They lost their way, again and again. They lost their faith, again and again. (“Can you hear me now?”) So much for God in clouds and fire.

And there was the tabernacle, too, the Ark of the Covenant, meant to be God’s very presence in the midst of those same Israelites. Where the ark was, there the God of the universe would be – this kind of pre-historic “mobile device” for the almighty. If the Israelites packed the ark of the covenant, remembered to let it lead their journey through the wilderness, they could rest assured of God’s presence in their midst. But they couldn’t be trusted, it seems. The ark was lost to the enemy and even though they brought it home again, they were lost, still, in more ways than they could count. (“Can you hear me now?”) So much for God in arks and tabernacles and heavy furniture.

And there were more and all variety of attempts, by God, to reveal grace and love and mercy and guidance and inspiration and instruction – and more – for people on the planet. Smoke… Fire…Whirlwinds… Angels…Dreams and Visions… Clouds… Burning Bushes…

“Can you hear me now?” “Can you hear me now?” “Can you hear me now?”

And none of it was cutting the mustard. None of it would stick. None of it lasted very long. None of it mattered, like God had hoped. God went unheard – or at least unheeded – until God, it seems to me, gave it one last go, in Jesus Christ.

The Word became flesh and lived among us. (“Can you hear me now?”)

All the love and hope and mercy and forgiveness God could muster showed up in the form of this child, this baby, this person who could speak our language; who could dream our dreams; who could breathe our air and walk in our shoes and cry our tears and shed our blood. God left the distant, comfort of the heavens and God came close, and spoke clearly. And God’s very nature was revealed to us in the most accessible terms we might finally understand: in the form of one who lived and moved and breathed; who walked and talked, just like those for whom he was sent in the first place.

“Can you hear me, now?”

That Word became a baby boy – all coos and giggles and wrinkles and wriggles, for sure. The Word became a child – complete with all sorts of hope and expectation and answered prayers and unlimited potential. The Word became this Jesus – a promised fulfilled, the Son of God, the one who was going to finally save his people from their sins.

“Can you hear me now?” I hope so. But that wasn’t all. And that wasn’t the only  point, really. There was more. It wasn’t all coos and giggles, I mean.

It all meant some other pretty amazing things, too, this Word becoming flesh.

It meant the Word became flesh for the sake of the lost and the broken and the searching and the hungry and for “the least of these,” in every way.

It meant the Word became the flesh of refugees and rejects. (“Can you hear me now?”)

It meant the Word became the flesh of the poor and the persecuted. (“Can you hear me now?”)

The Word became the flesh of disease and dying and darkness. (“Can you hear me now?”)

The Word became the flesh of all manner of struggle and suffering and fear and uncertainty. (“Can you hear me now?”)

Jesus showed up to be and to bear all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly; the hopeful and the despairing; the living and the dying; the sick and the well; the saint and the sinner; the lost and the found. Jesus showed up, the Word became flesh and lived among us to become the gamut of our human experience, because that’s the only way we will know and understand and receive what God longs for us to hear – once and for all; to know – for certain; to experience for ourselves – finally in ways that change us:

That all are welcome. That all is forgiven. That all are loved. That all will be redeemed by God’s grace, which has come, in the flesh, for the sake of the world.

Amen. Merry Christmas.

All Rights Reserved. Background image by Aaron Stamper. © Cross of Grace Lutheran Church.