This is a snippet from Reverend Robert Arbogast’s 4th Sunday of Advent Sermon at Olentangy Christian Reformed Church in Columbus, Ohio. He is a humble and gifted preacher and a wonderful person. If you would like to read more of his sermons, and I highly recommend it, just go to: http://www.ohiocrc.org/sermons
“. . . people are always quoting Micah 6:8 about doing justice. But the whole set of verses there in Micah 6 are instructive for today’s purposes. ‘What should I offer to God?’ That’s the question. ‘What should I offer to God? I’m not sure what God wants. A burnt offering of a thousand rams? Rivers and rivers of olive oil? Is that what God wants from me, something expensive like that? How about my own child, my first born? How about I do what Abraham almost did? Is that what God wants from me?’
That’s the question and here’s the answer: ‘He has told you, he has told you what is good. He has told you what is required. You already know. Just do it!’ Are we as ignorant of God’s will as we sometimes tell ourselves we are, protesting the lack of a sign or clear signal from God, when we already know? Say I have a spare $150. I may think about buying a new “stompbox” for my electric guitar, even though I don’t need one. Another option would be to send the money to the Open Door ministry in Kalazmazoo, Michigan, a ministry that helps vulnerable people get on their feet and take their place in society.
Well, don’t I know what God wants me to do with my $150? Isn’t it less a question of knowing what God wants than wanting what God wants? That’s sure how it is for me. I know you can supply your own examples. Times in the past when you knew what God wanted but you didn’t want what God wanted. Times in the past–and maybe you have an example right now, something that is haunting you because you know what God wants. And none of the excuses you’ve tried have worked, none of the attempts to forget what you know, what you know better than you want to. You know what God wants but you don’t want it yourself. And you’re ready to turn your back. Mary could have turned her back . . . . Mary could have said, “No!” But she said, “Yes!” She decided in faith to want what God wanted, whatever the price. A sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). You and I? We’ll turn our backs because of inconvenience. We’ll turn our backs because we have other plans, plans for the evening or plans for our lives. But Mary is our model, as is everyone who makes herself a servant of God’s will.
Advent, the patient season, is nearly over. The time is upon us, the time to welcome the Lord. For you, for me, for the Church, the time has come. Time to do what we know. Time to put ourselves and what we treasure at risk. Time to trust God enough to welcome and to serve what God wants, and to learn in time to want it, too. Amen.