Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings

December 19, 2021……….Rev. Patrick Mecham………4th Sunday of Advent

Micah 5: 2-5a; Luke 1: 39-45

I suspect that many of you grew up in a small town, as I did.  And when you went out into the bigger, wider world, you may have been thought of as a “small-town girl” or a “small-town boy”—at least, when compared to those raised in a bigger city.  I remember that, when I was young, we looked down on kids from outlying communities that didn’t quite measure up to our population of 13,000!  And, of course, we were mighty impressed when a new kid moved in who was from Chicago or Miami or L.A.  Wooo!  As if the size of one’s community had anything to do with the measure of one’s character!

But we have in our texts for today, first a  “little clan of Judah” that would (surprisingly) produce a mighty King; then we have two women who might have been looked down on—one because she was a young (and unmarried) woman carrying a child, and one who was old and had been considered barren (and therefore not honored.)

These texts are a reminder that many of God’s GREATEST things have very humble beginnings.  One might have expected that the future KING would come from a mighty household, a family of great power and influence—and that this king would be born in a palace.  (Jesus was in the line of King David, but David’s line was not in power when he was born.)  And, as you know, Jesus was born into the most humble of circumstances.

The text in Micah says of the new king, “And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of Peace.”

[Jesus did NOT take his majesty from the size of his town or the circumstances of his family, but from the MAJESTY of the name of the Lord his God—and this is an entirely different thing!]

Then, of course, there is his mother, Mary.  She was not a person that the world would consider full of potential greatness—but God saw in her a trusting heart and a willingness to be obedient to her Lord.  And when her cousin Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed that Mary was blessed among women, and that “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Humble women with an amazing role in history!

Many of you know how much I admire Booker T. Washington.  He was born into slavery, and was still a child at the end of the Civil War.  His family had to leave the plantation and find their way in the world.  Fortunately, his parents had a great work ethic, and they believed in the power of education.  They taught him to work hard, and he worked hard to get an education.  He was chosen to be the first President of a new college designed to educate former slaves and the children of former slaves, The Tuskegee Institute!  Through his hard work, he and the students literally built that college (and the furniture for the buildings), and they grew much of the food they then served in the cafeteria.  Booker T. Washington did not take his greatness from the standing of his family or the size of his community or the volume of his bank account.  He took what little he had and used it to the glory of God

Yes, many of God’s greatest have been people with very humble beginnings.  And how about YOU?  Is it possible that YOU are meant for greatness?!  That YOU are destined to be used by God in a way that blesses our world?

I have long treasured a piece by Marianne Williamson, an excerpt from Return to Love.  (It was quoted by Nelson Mandela, and is sometimes attributed to him.)  It is entitled, “Our Deepest Fear.”

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I’ll leave you with this thought: When Jesus was choosing his disciples, he didn’t go after people of influence, people who were already considered “up-and-coming.”  (The only one with any formal education and influential contacts was Judas Iscariot—and you know how that worked out.)

So, instead of begging off when God calls you to action, saying, “Oh, God, you can’t mean ME?  I’m just a nobody—I don’t have what it takes to do what you are asking.”  You know that God will say, “Of COURSE you don’t have what it takes.  Be strong and courageous anyway, because I will be with you, and I have what it takes!”  Most of God’s greatest people have come from very humble beginnings, but ANYTHING is possible with God!

That is exactly what the Angel Gabriel told Mary, so she responded, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”