Mr. Microphone

“Mr. Microphone”  Isaiah 40:1-11
Delivered to Church for the Highlands    Rev. Dr. John Henson
Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2017

So, how many of you remember that amazing Mr. Microphone commercial?  And how many of you bought one?  I got one for Christmas one year.  I tried that line, “Hey good looking, we will be back to pick you up later.”  I went back and no one was there.  Just me and my Mr. Microphone.  The magic of amplification, though, is still amazing.

That’s what we’ve heard in both of our Scripture readings this morning.  God had a message the world needed to hear and wanted it amplified.  This wasn’t just any old message. It was good news, glad tidings of God to a people in desperate need of it.  God was coming into the world to deliver them from their captivity.  And so God picked two of the most powerful microphones he could find—Isaiah and John the Baptist, though separated by hundreds of years.  Both are worthy of our time, but we will focus in on Isaiah this morning.

1-Chronicles-9-Jewish-captives-detail-of-a-relief-from-the-palace-of-Sennacherib-at-Niniveh-Iraq-photographed-by-Erich-Lessing-669x272All of this good news wasn’t to be kept quiet.  Isaiah and others were to hear God’s call to “Cry out!” Those words of God. They were to climb the highest mountain and shout out the good news.  They could speak up without fear, for the words God had given as a message of good news would outlast their pain, their homesickness, their conquerors, their doubts, and all else. Climbing to a high point and proclaiming the words of God was God’s way for Isaiah and others to prepare for the day when God would arrive in their midst and make all things new. Until then, they were to take comfort in God’s faithfulness and get busy as heralds of good tidings.

We still need to hear the good news. Our lives and the world around us can be bombarded and consumed with bad news.  Like the captives in Babylon, our hearts may be heavy with loss. Our home may be in shambles, our security may be threatened, our joy may be smothered, and our future may be in question.  As we look at our world, we see it threatened in many ways:  intense political division, measurable changes, and effects of global warming, renewed interest in nuclear weapons and warfare, the rise and acceptance of white supremacists and other hate groups.  Such bad news in our world will drown out the good news if we let it.

But what Isaiah reminds us today is that we aren’t to let it be louder than the good news.  We are invited to hear the voice saying to us, “Cry out” and “get you to a high mountain, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength.”  Getting to such a high place and speaking out is one way God wants us to prepare for God’s arrival in our world.  Where is your mountain, high place this next week?  Where has—and will—God put you in order to amplify the good news in your home, at work, at school, and on Facebook?  And what about for our church?  Where do we need to be with the good news in the Highland neighborhood and in our city? I wonder sometimes if we have grown comfortable here in our location, a mountain peak for sure, as we get accustomed to people naturally coming to this building for various things throughout the week.  Shouldn’t we be identifying and getting to additional mountains with the good news within Highland?

What we are we to say when we get there is the good news of “Here is your God!”  In other words, “Look and see God.  This is who God is.”  That kind of proclamation can only be taken seriously when the messengers are authentic followers of Jesus; when we are pointing to Jesus as revealed in the gospels rather than the one we’ve shaped to represent our politics, race, and denomination.  Our words of good news are to be in stark contrast to those of the gods of our world:  fundamentalism, greed, consumerism, power, addiction, and hatred.  We are to share with the world a God who brings comfort to the captives, forgiveness for the sinner, compassion for the hurting, justice for the downtrodden, and hope for the hopeless.  May we keep our message of good news as clear and simple as Jesus did with his life, death, and resurrection.

Knowing what we are to shout from the mountain tops isn’t enough.  We must get busy with the shouting. We do this when we serve on a missional team, when we invite people to Worship, when we help people with financial resources, when we sing at Christmas events like yesterday, when we join our voices with others as we work with other faith groups in Interfaith, when we speak out against discrimination, when we share a God who looks and sounds like Jesus, when we love an enemy, and when we internalize the comfort God intends people in captivity to have.

Last night, in the midst of the noise of busyness and chores, we heard the sound of a choir singing.  As I looked out the window, I saw Christmas carolers huddled together in the cold night in front of a neighbor’s house.  Their sound was amazing and, even though they weren’t at our house, we couldn’t help but feel the joy of Christmas in our own home.  As we hear from Isaiah today, we learn that God has called us to do the same with our voices—taking them out into the cold and dark world to bring good tidings of joy.

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Audio and podcast are available here

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