Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dec 18, 2011 sermon; Luke 1:26-38

Rev. George Miller
Luke 1:26-38
“Nothing’s Impossible”
Dec 18, 2011

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” I invite you to repeat this with me: “For nothing.” “Will be.” “Impossible.” “With God.”

In many ways we could call this the creed of all biblical creeds. If we were looking for a way of branding the Bible or creating a logo, this could be it.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” From creation to deliverance to resurrection, this creed, brand, logo is pretty spot on.

It’s something I hold dear; something I refer to in gatherings, committees, and Bible studies; something I believe I have lived.

Let me share with you an example. Years ago, I worked at a summer camp, a small operation that took place in the basement of a small church in a relatively poor town.

Because of this, the children qualified for free lunches that were delivered each day.

One day we ran into a problem. Lunch for that afternoon was chicken nuggets and juice boxes, which for kids is the Holy Grail of food. Trouble is, we had 13 lunch boxes and 19 people to feed.

For a moment, we went into crisis mode; what were we to do? Not have 6 kids eat?

The answer came by recalling the scriptures.

We gathered the children; we were honest about the situation. We then told them the story of the loaves and fishes, and that we should trust that there would be enough food to go around.

We said our prayer, divided the nuggets, the juice, the pieces of fruit and crackers and we ate, and we ate, and we talked, and we joked, and lo and behold, there was enough for all.

Not only that, but the child next to me had a left over chicken nugget and asked if I would like it.

Truthfully, I wasn’t hungry, but I knew that this was a teachable moment: a lesson in hospitality, in which that child felt it was necessary to give me his last chicken nugget.

Therefore it was important for me to receive it with a “Thank you” and an “Hmm-mmm” that indicated it was the best tasting chicken nugget ever.

Impossible to feed 19 hungry people with 13 boxes of food? Not impossible at all, but completely, totally, 100%...possible.

We started with way too little, and through God we ended with more then enough!

Little miracles happen every day, all around, and yet they still amaze and confound.

Yet, if I was to make a confession: in my off time, behind closed doors, in my personal life, it’s a bit harder to live by this notion of the impossibly possible.

When the moments of darkness and doubt enter into my life, I wonder if they will happen.

Like the time I was 25 and figured I’d never make it back to Disney World. Or when I was 28 and certain that I could never afford to go back to school.

Or when I was 39 and afraid that no church would ever be brave enough to call me as their own.

But I am here to remind you, to remind myself, and to remind the darkness that nothing is impossible with God.

That’s what Luke wants us to know.

Luke is the third of the Gospels and it’s one of only two that try to tell us anything about Jesus’ birth.

In fact, Luke goes back to before Jesus is even born. He introduces Elizabeth, an older woman who has lived her whole life unable to give birth.

This is during a time when bareness was seen as brokenness and a judgment from God.

But through God, the impossible happens: she finds out that she is soon to be a mother, and with new life growing in her belly, Elizabeth states “This is what the Lord has done for me.”

But Elizabeth is not the only one in the family to experience the impossible. In another town, lives her much younger cousin, Mary.

Whereas Elizabeth is an older, mature woman from the big city with a white-collar husband, Mary is at what you may call that awkward in-between stage of life.

She’s from the country and has yet to see the world. She’s no longer a girl, but not yet a woman. She lives at home but is engaged to be married, and her husband Joseph; well, he’s blue collar.

If Elizabeth is red wine, Mary would be Pabst Blue Ribbon. Not who you would ever think to be the mother of the Messiah.

Oh, and there is the whole issue of her being a virgin.

And yet…nothing is impossible with God.

For one day, an angel comes to this small town girl living an in-between existence, and calls her the favored one.

And Mary, full of fear, discovers that she will have a boy and he will be called Son of Most High and his kingdom will last forever.

Mary, as you can imagine, says what anyone of us would say if we were in the same situation: “How can this be?”

The angel explains it to her, then to prove that anything-can-happen, the angel let’s her know that Elizabeth is also pregnant, “for nothing will be impossible with God.”

I don’t know about you, but this month I needed to be reminded of that.

In the midst of the republican nomination hullabaloo,

in the midst of my Mom having a car accident,

in the midst of being single yet again for Christmas,

it is sure good, and it is so right, to be reminded that where we are is not always where we will be;

that what we have is not always what we got,

and that no matter what man, no matter what woman, no matter what doctors, economists, scholars say,

nothing will be impossible with God.

I feel like we need to have an amen.

Use a woman who society deems as too old to bring forth new life? Why not?

Use a girl who society deems too young? Sure thing!

It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

I love these stories in the Bible, don’t you?

There’s Sarah in the book of Genesis. She’s living her life, doing her thing with Abraham when God calls them to travel to a new land so God can bless the world.

Even though Sarah laughs at the idea of having a child, God reminds her that nothing is too wonderful for the Lord.

There’s David in the book of Samuel. He’s the youngest of 8 boys and treated with little regard, even by his own Father.

He was so young he couldn’t walk with armor and a sword. Yet it is he, with nothing more then a smooth stone and a sling shot, who slew the mighty Goliath and became a mighty king.

And in just a few days, we welcome the birth of Jesus, a poor, homeless baby, born to a young Mary and blue-collar Joseph from an ill-reputed town.

Baby Jesus who will have to use a manger for a bed, who will grow into a man with no known home, no secure job; yet it will be he who will live to reflect the light of God and become the way of our salvation.

Living proof that nothing will be impossible with God, a foundational truth that we find throughout the Bible.

The world may say “No” but God says “Yes.”

The world may say “Not yet” but God says “Yes, now.”

The world may say “No way” but God says “I’ll tell you who is the Way, the Truth and the Light.”

In conclusion, let me be honest and say I still find it hard to live by faith every day and to find the faith to make it through every storm, to make it through every dark night.

But I believe that the words of Luke 1:37 are ultimately true.

After all, looking back I did get to school, I did get called to a church, and yes, I even did eventually get to Disney World.

It may all be coincidence; it may be the result of hard work, but somehow I can’t help but to feel like it was all part of a plan.

But I sure wish that sometimes we could better see God’s plan; I wish that sometimes we could better understand it.

But I know that God has a plan, a redemptive plan not just for you, not just for me, but for the entire world.

And because God does, we can let go of some of our fear, we can let go of some of our worries, we can let the light of Christ shine a little bit more into our darkest places.

Because with God nothing will be impossible.

In Christ, there will be enough chicken nuggets and juice boxes for all.

If you believe that to be so, let me hear you say “Hallelujah!”

If you believe that to be so, let me hear you say “Amen.”

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