S-1352-4SIA/C 12/23/2012 Hymns: #95; #647; L.S. 102; #307; 85 vv. 1-8; #85 vv. 13-15
Texts: Micah 5:2-5; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
Theme: “Come to Bethlehem and See” (Micah 5:2)
Question: “Did someone invite you to come and see?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Fourth Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. lesson: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
Loving children of the heavenly Father, growing up as an Arab Palestinian was challenging to say the least. Throughout my growing up years I was treated differently because of my nationality and the situation in my country.
In 1948 Israel became a country. During the war of 1948, my maternal grandfather fled the war zone country to Lebanon saying to himself we shall return when things settle down. Things never did and my family literally was divided in half. My mother’s family grew up in Lebanon Refugee Camps and my dad’s family grew up in Israel. Though we were separated only by an hour distance we never saw each other. However, whenever a priest would take a trip across the border to Lebanon, mother would send pictures to her family and they would do the same when the priest returned back to Israel. I only knew my family through pictures but never talked or visited with them in person.
In the spring of 1972, I was sitting in our kitchen and all of a sudden a taxi cab stops in front of our house and an elderly woman gets out. I looked at the lady and thought, (she looks like my grandma), I called mother and said, “Yumma, (mom) come and see a lady that looks like your mother!” When my mom reached the window to look out, she began to holler, “Nabil, it is my mother, it’s my mother!” Tears of joy welled up as we hugged, kissed and visited with each other.
Today, after the long wait of Advent, the loving Father, bids us to come and see the long expected Messiah promised of old. Today, God speaks words to every sinner and says “Take another look in Bethlehem and see what I have given you!” Today, He who is gracious says to us, “Come and see My Son laying on a bed of straw for you!” Today, the Everlasting God says to each of us, “Come and see what happens in Bethlehem!” Today, the Father is proud to show the world how much He cares for it and desires to be with us as He once had with our parents in the Garden of Eden.
As we make the trip to Bethlehem again this year, we pray that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see Him, the Virgin born, the Eternal God who comes to earth to live with us and save us. Today, as we walk with others to the manger, we pray to take a deeper look at the little Baby lying and behold with eyes of faith the One who will stay with us on our journey, every step of the way, and will guide us toward an everlasting kingdom, one marked by heavenly, perfect love and peace. He is Emmanuel—God with us.
A long time ago, I shouted to my mother to come and see the elderly lady. Today, Micah, the prophet of God, shouts to the people of his time and in our ears telling us to come to Bethlehem and see the amazing sight. This insignificant village, which is too small to be counted and be of any consequence among the clans and tribes of Judah Israel, is chosen by God to bring forth the future Ruler of Israel.
And this Ruler will reign supreme over all people. He will not be like the rulers of the earth seeking their own benefit. No, this Ruler will be like no other king who has ever sat on the throne. He will be One who will do justice and righteous as He serves the people with love and grace. And with His reign, He will usher the heavenly PEACE that the world desperately needs—a peace that has never been matched or equaled anywhere on planet earth. Peace between God and man.
Yes, Come and See! See the God of heaven and earth who fulfilled His promise made long ago to Adam and Eve. Come and see the Babe of Bethlehem making His home on earth to feed the hungry souls with the Bread of Life—Himself. Come to Bethlehem (the house of Bread in Hebrew) and see the Bread of heaven come down. This bread is one that satisfies the body and soul you don’t need to pay for it. It is given you freely by the Bread King, the One who supplies all of our needs as we pray in the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us today, our daily bread.” And He does.
Come to Bethlehem and see the Child of Mary serve humanity with joy and delight like no other shepherd ever has. Micah goes on to say, “And He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth” (v.4). The Child of Mary would grow up like His ancestor David to be a great shepherd and shepherd His people and care for every need.
Come to Bethlehem and see what this Child does for you. He will give you security in every situation you face. He will uphold you with the strength of the Lord when the doctors say, “its cancer!” He will be there to assure you as you face the upcoming heart surgery, YOU will be secure in His hands. He will secure your future though our government can’t secure it. He will strengthen you as you face every challenge because He is YOUR Good Shepherd who will do the impossible to care for your every need.
Come to Bethlehem and see a Shepherd from the linage of David who wrote the 23 Psalm which has become a favorite to many. The 23rd Psalm is David’s way of telling us come with me to Bethlehem and see Him who guide and lead you in green pastures, who will provide you a table when you least expect it. He will shepherd them and care for them. He will guard and guide you with His Rod and Staff and He will be with you forever with mercy and goodness.
Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth we celebrate in a couple of days and see what He does to make sure your life here on earth and forever in heaven is SECURED. He does the impossible to win our freedom and earn our security by going to Cavalry’s cross. There He is beaten, His beard is pulled out, He slapped and spit upon and eventually they hang Him on a cross for you. But He doesn’t remain there. Three days later He rises from the grave and gives you the eternal security that He Himself taught us in the Gospel of St. John saying: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Yes, in His hands we are safe and secure and nothing not even death, hell, evil or anything else can separate us from Him or His love. And on the cross He was spiked and speared for you. But He does more, He becomes our peace.
Therefore, today, as we join the throng in Bethlehem let us rejoice for what we have seen with our own eyes—the heaven-sent Savior comes for you and me. For our God loves us. He brings us the enlightenment of His Word - the revelation - that we get what we do not deserve for all the times our eyes have never seen Him or even looked for Him. We receive not condemnation, but salvation and the shining robe of righteousness…all because He the Ruler of Israel has come into the world. He comes to open our eyes to see Him as the everlasting Prince of peace.
For the omnipotent Lord has penetrated our darkened world. He who lived in the glory of heaven came to this sin-infested, death-infested filled planet. He who created the sun and the stars chose to enter the dark confines of a virgin’s womb. He came not as a great flash of light, or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as One whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter in a dark and musty stable. He grew up only to have His eyes closed and snuffed out, but in so doing won for us full and free forgiveness and life everlasting. His brilliant resurrection seals it!
Through the eyes of the Prophets we can see all this from Bethlehem. We see a Baby, a cross, an empty tomb and eternal life. What a privilege to be able to go to Bethlehem to see the Lord of lords and the Ruler of the universe, Jesus Your God and Savior. And, what an honor that we share Him with others and say come and see, my Savior has come for me and you. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA.