Advent II – Midweek
December 11, 2019
Rev. Richard Langness
Ascension Lutheran Church
Grace, mercy, and peace are yours this night from our triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
There is one simple truth that upon which I believe we can all agree. It is this; wherever you go, you are there. If we put it into the first-person singular perspective it is this; wherever I go, I am here. Here is an interesting concept. One could go down the philosophical path and debate the true meaning of here, what is truly here and what is not. But there is the concrete truth that I am here and you are there. From your first-person perspective it is the same. Your “here” is where you are. And it is from our first-person perspective that our here makes sense. The here of where we are is the connecting point to our world and our reality.
It is from the here of where we are that we find relevance. More often than not, we determine truth based upon our understanding of the here. If we cannot connect a truth with the here of where we are, it can be easily dismissed. Truth can only exist if it can be perceived from our point of perspective, from the here of where we are in this life. It is difficult for us to grasp hold of a truth if it only exists in philosophical terms. Concrete truth is that which can be verified and verified here where we are.
But here is rather fluid for I can be here at this moment or I can be here at this moment. Both heres are valid places even though they are different places. Thus, if I were sitting at your dining room table I would be here even if it were there. If I travelled to London, I would be here even if it were there. In many ways the here is limitless for wherever I am, I am here. And yet, there are boundaries that exist. For instance, I cannot be in the place of the pulpit. I cannot be in the here of where the wood of the pulpit is. If I were one with the wood, then I would be here. But since I cannot, it is simply there and I am here.
Now with all this talk, you might be wondering why you are here or why I am here. Well there is a point to all this and here is where it all starts. If you embrace the theory of the big bang, which I do not, then you also must embrace this truth from the here of where you are. The following is quoted from the website: big-bang-theory.com:
According to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence as “singularity” around 13.7 billion years ago… Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something – a singularity. Where did it come from? We don’t know. Why did it appear? We don’t know.
To embrace the big bang theory from the here of where we are, we must believe that all of the heres of where we could be, the here of the planets around us, the here of the galaxies, the here of every point in the universe that exists, all had a beginning point in a singularity no bigger than the size of a pin head. The origin of which is unknown as well as why it even appeared. But this leads us to an important question. If all our heres are there (point to the pin head), what is all this here? (point to all that is outside of the pin head) What is all this that exists outside of this pin head singularity?
Again, a quote from big-bang-theory.com:
The singularity didn’t appear in space; rather, space began inside of the singularity. Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy – nothing. So where and in what did the singularity appear if not in space? We don’t know. We don’t know where it came from, why it’s here, or even where it is. All we really know is that we are inside of it and at one time it didn’t exist and neither did we.
This is the extent of the truth that we can connect with from the here of our existence. From our human perspective, from our first-person singular perspective, this truth somehow seems logical even with all its unanswered questions. But there are two things that I find truly amazing here. The first is that all the true science behind this theory points us to a Creator. It points us to a God who is outside of all that we know. And the second thing that amazes me is how willing we are to deny God’s existence in favor of this theory, a theory which removes any significance to our existence.
Listen again to the first words of God’s revelation to you, His very creation. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) God, knowing the limitations of our understanding, revealed Himself in the simplest truth to be grasped. Before all the heres of this world that we know, there was God. If we go back to the pin head, the all of this which is outside of it is God. We have a mighty big God! And this singularity, rather, this creation, was brought forth by the very Word of God. The beloved St. John probably had no idea of the big bang theory; which is fine because he knew a truth that was divinely true. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-2)
Outside of the pin head of our universe there is God. Before this pin head of our universe came into existence there was the Word, the very Son of God who was with God and was God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. So here is the truly interesting thing. God did not use the big bang to create the universe; rather, He gave us the science to point us back to Him. Genesis 1:1 defines both creation and the God who created it. It points us to a God who is outside of all things physical and material. God is not bound by the material; rather all things material are bound up in Him.
This pin is a creation of man. It does not rule over man, rather it is ruled over by man. If this pin head had the powers of comprehension it nonetheless could not comprehend me for it would have no understanding of all that makes up what it means to be human. The here of where the pin head is has no understanding of the here of where I am. But this, then, leads us to the point and purpose of Advent.
St. Paul writes in his letter to the Church gathered in Rome: For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:20-22) Thus, even this pin head, this product of creation groans because of its bondage to corruption. This pin head is destined for destruction. In the course of time it will decay.
Now if I, as its creator, wanted to be here, the here of this pin head, there is the truth that in our coming together I would be pierced. Blood would flow from the point where we came together. This truth is but another revelation of God. It points us to what John meant when he wrote, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5) God, the God who exists in the here outside of all the heres that we know, chose to come into our world and bring life and light into our death and darkness. The God who dwells outside of creation would join Himself with creation so that He might be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5)
What we celebrate in Christmas is the incarnation. The incarnation is truly unique. It is not simply God existing in creation like one putting his hand within a basin he has made. The incarnation is God becoming one with us, God joining Himself to our flesh and experiencing the heres of our life. God came here. He came to the here of where you are. He came to the here of your sin and my sin, of your death and my death. God, the God who is outside of all creation, was conceived by the Holy Spirit within the virgin Mary and became a single cell living zygote that developed into the baby who was born in Bethlehem.
The virgin birth is really not that hard to believe; especially if one can believe that everything in our universe was at one time condensed to the size of a pin head. If we believe that all our known universe was infinitesimally small, then why can we not believe that the infinite God of creation was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary? And with that, why should we ever doubt the incarnation that takes place here at the altar and here at the rail?
Tonight, the spoken Word of God incarnates Himself in bread and wine. The very flesh and blood of God is found here upon the altar and put into your mouth here at the rail. This here is truly a remarkable place for here God joins Himself with you and you are made one with the very God who dwells in a here that is beyond you and outside of you. But in this here, you are redeemed. In this here, you are forgiven. In this here you are made alive and all the heres of this world now have purpose and meaning.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He did it with you in mind. He did it with the cross prepared. He did it so that He would be here with you now and forevermore. Amen.