The Lord has done great things for us (sermon on Ps. 126)

And God stepped out on space
And he looked around and said
I’m lonely
I’ll make me a world

So begins ‘The Creation’, that famous poem by James Weldon Johnson, which ends with the creation of man, which portrays a God who contemplates the vast expanse of interstellar space, and says

I’m lonely
I’ll make me a world

A God who dreams up a world so bright and beautiful and good—too good to last against the perils of temptation. A God who watches in sorrow as Adam and Eve eat the fruit, who walks in the garden at the cool of the day and says

I’ll make me a world

And so outside of the garden, he tells his beloved creation how to live, to be in a world where pain and death exist.

But soon, Abel lies dead, and violence runs rampant until, of those people made from clay, there are only a few who remember God’s dream. And so the waters cover the earth, and recede and a rainbow appears in the sky as God promises

I’ll make me a world

So Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph wrestle with this God and this dream, the dream that will outnumber the stars in the sky and bring rulers to their knees in the face of these wandering nomads, beloved of God, provided for even in drought and plague.

So they go to Egypt. But the Egyptians have forgotten Joseph and his God and this dream, and so God says

Let my people go
so I can make me a world

And in the face of this dream, the waters of the Red Sea part, water gushes from the rock, manna falls from the heavens, the tablets of stone invite God’s beloved into this dream of justice and abundant life.

God beckons an unruly people into the promised land saying

I’m gonna make me a world

It didn’t last for long, by all accounts—whether Deuteronomy was a dream or a short-term reality, soon there were judges and then kings: some glorious, some forgotten. And God’s beloved forgot, again and again, turning to Ba’al and earthly rulers for comfort, peace, security.

And as the tattered shards of God’s dream were carted off to Babylon, God through the prophets, prophesied that the ancient ruins shall be built up, that those who mourn in Zion shall have garlands instead of ashes, and God took the remnant of the people of Israel and Judah by the hand and said

I’ll make me a world.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, they were like those who dream. In this world, this dream of God, the people returned and the temple was rebuilt, the law was reestablished and there was great rejoicing, and then the Bible tells us very little for the next hundreds of years…

until a man clothed in camel’s hair, a man named John, appeared on the banks of the Jordan as a witness to God’s dream. And through this voice crying in the wilderness, God says to these ruled-over and captive people

I’m lonely
So prepare the way
Because I’m gonna make me a world

But God’s dream of beating swords into plowshares and uniting the whole world to himself was not, is not, a world of judges and kings and warfare and poverty. Amidst the joy and repentance and excitement on the banks of the Jordan, the gathered crowd forgot, forgot this dream, and eagerly awaited a Messiah like the earthly kings, like David of old.

And God chuckled, and sent a baby, born in straw and among shepherds, and said

I’ll make me a world

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth, the grace and beauty and goodness of God’s dream from that garden so long ago. The Word became flesh and lived and died and rose for each of us because God said

I’m gonna save me a world

Two thousand years of prophets and saints and sinners and God making and remaking this saved world, and we still find ourselves here this Advent, waiting for the coming of Christ. We still find ourselves waiting for, longing for our savior who will turn the world right, who will make this dream of God a perpetual, eternal reality.

On this third Sunday of Advent, we may find ourselves praying ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’, and wondering where God is. Where is this Lord who has done great things for us before? Where is our God now?

If this salvation history, our lineage of faith, is anything to go by, the answer to this question is that God is among us, inside of us, knocking at the door of our homes and hearts, saying

I’m lonely
I’m gonna make me a world

but I can’t do it
without you, my beloved child

The Lord can indeed restore our fortunes and turn tears into songs of joy

And so on this third Sunday of Advent
Christ stands before you
Your home
Your heart
Wherever you may find yourself this year
and says
I’m gonna make me a world.
We’re gonna make this dream real
Will you join me?

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