My name is Micah – your fourth and final guest speaker for Advent!  How quickly the time has gone by!

Micah means “like God”, certainly appropriate for me, because like God: I have a deep and abiding love for all people – because of course, all are created in the image and likeness of God.

Like God:  I have deep and abiding concern for the poor and the outcast – especially widows, orphans and aliens:  foreigners, from other lands.

And like God:  I have a deep and abiding disdain for all those who disregard the needs of the lowly and the down-trodden – so could not remain silent before the leaders of Israel – who at the time I was writing –

Were exploiting  the poor by taking their land – and heaping injustice upon injustice on them – and then were distracting everyone else from the plight of the poor with threats and rumors of war:  dividing the people of Israel, one against another, rather than uniting them.   I’m sure you don’t have such problems in your day. . .

So like God:  I was speaking on behalf of the downtrodden –a prophet of divine justice for the  rights of the poor.

Like my contemporary, the prophet Isaiah:  I always spoke on behalf of the forgotten ones – the runts of the litter – and liked to point out that’s where we can so often find God’s actions at work.

When God was looking for someone to be the Father of his great nation – whose descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky – God did not turn to some young, mighty king –

But chose a nomadic, OLD, shepherd – Abraham and his wife Sarah for the task.

When God was looking for someone to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land – God did not turn to some eloquent and proven leader –

But chose the tongue-tied Moses for the task.

When God was looking for someone to become King of Israel – God did not turn to the oldest or the brawniest of Jesse’s sons –

But he turned to the youngest and the scrawniest:  David – just as God also sent him up against the giant, Goliath – allowing this runt to rise in favor among his people by slaying this mighty foe.

Little wonder, then, that in the fullness of time, when God chose to enter into the world – God chose to come not as a powerful leader of an invading army – but came quietly, and hardly noticed as a tiny, little baby – not born in some great palace in a great city – but in an animals’ feed trough – in the little town of Bethlehem:

“Thus says the lord:  you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah – too small to be among the clans of Judah:

 

From you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler of Israel.”

And the mother of that tiny, little baby was no to be some wealthy or prominent woman – but the poor and obscure – Mary  —  from a bump-in-the-road hill country town of Nazareth – who was not even married at the time she conceived!

Yes, God seems to favor the lowly, the poor, the forgotten, the downtrodden, the runts of the litter.  God often appears in the most unlikely of places at the most inconvenient of times – because God is in charge!  God is the king of the universe!

 

All of this having been said – what I would ask of you this week is to deal with a common thought and emotion many people have when it comes to encountering and experiencing God – the thoughts and feelings of being unworthy:

Yes, the thought that when it comes to opening oneself to the great gift of God’s love – you should be passed over – because somehow you don’t deserve such a gift!

Well, you are right in a way – you don’t deserve it – because no one does – and that’s what makes it pure gift – the fact that no one can earn it or deserve it.

 

If God only came to the just – and if God only came to the deserving, the strong, the wise, and the sinless – then God would be getting pretty lonely in heaven. . .

No, God rains down his love on the just as well as the unjust – on the saint and most especially on the sinner – because that is just the nature of God.  God is love!

So get over those feelings of being unworthy.  Quit putting yourself down as undeserving.  And join in the long list of God’s favor showered upon the lowly, the poor, the forgotten, the despised, the downtrodden – the runts of the litter:  Abraham.  Moses.  David.  Bethlehem.  Mary.

God is love – and God’s love is to come to you soon in a special way on the feast of Christmas.  But God’s love is already present among us.  That’s the love you are to carry as good news – to all those who need it – the poor and the outcast – especially widows, orphans, and aliens:  foreigners from other lands.  Loving words, and compassionate actions which unite the people of God—rather than dividing them. . .

O Come, Desire of nations, bind

In one the hearts of humankind.

O bid our sad divisions cease, and be for us our Prince of Peace.

Rejoice, rejoice.  Emmanuel.  Shall come to you O Israel!