Sermon for Higher Things – Las Vegas
Rev. Todd Peperkorn
July 15, 2015
TITLE: “You laid aside your glory”
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
I love origin stories. You know, the stories about how the superhero became the superhero. Stuck in a vat of radioactive goo, bit by an alien cockroach, coming in from the planet Zeldon. Whatever the origin story, what it tells is how so-and-so can do all the amazing things they can do. They tell how it is that our hero is more than he appears, can do more than it looks like he can, and is able to save the world from whoever the bad guy is today.
All of us would like a better origin story, don’t you think? All of us secretly harbor the feeling that I want to be more than I appear. I want to do more, have more powers, have abilities that no one would suspect, and at just the right moment, POW, out comes my special power-up, to get me out of my bind for the day. We are never satisfied that what God has made is very good, and so the search continues. Maybe someday I’ll find out I’m actually adopted, and that my parents were aliens. Admit it, you wish your parents were aliens. Or they wish you were.
But when it comes to our Lord’s story, His story is, well, not that exciting. His origin story is that He has all the power, all the abilities, everything that you could ever want. He is the Son of the eternal God, the very image of God, an icon of God’s holiness. And His origin story is that He gave it all up. Our hymn says, “you laid aside your glory, were born of virgin’s womb”. And St. Matthew says, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.”
Well that has got to be about the dumbest origin story there ever was. What kind of a story is that? Our hero had every superpower there ever was, could leap tall buildings in a single bound, solve any problem, create the world itself, and what does He do? He is born in a backwater town, lived the life of a carpenter’s son. Whoever heard of a carpenter hero? (maybe a plumber…) And then, to top it all off, He dies the death of a common criminal.
But God uses the least and the last, the strangest and yet the most ordinary things to accomplish His great and mighty purposes. And make no mistake, God’s purpose in all this is you, your salvation and life, the forgiveness of sins and an eternity in fellowship with Him. So the angel speaks to Joseph, and tells Him to take Mary as his wife, even though appearances, well, they don’t look good. But looks can be deceiving.
When this Son is born, Joseph gives Him the name Jesus. He names His Son, like every Father or Mother has named their children since the world began. But His name, Jesus, isn’t just pulled from a “best Hebrew names for the year 6 B.C.” baby booklet. This name preaches. Yahweh, God, saves. So Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God with us. And He is with us, in our very own flesh and blood. While you and your sinful nature wants to be something or someone else, with superpowers, able to escape this messed up world. Jesus Christ, well, He wants to be you. He wants to be one with you, and so He now lays aside His glory, and is born into your flesh and blood.
And now, dearly Baptized, now the glory of God which He laid aside, it is now hidden in you. “For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Immanuel, God with us, is now and forevermore God for you and with you.
You don’t need to be a superhero, or to have a superhero. God has come into your flesh and blood, into your very life. He is your life. Live in Him, and do not be afraid.