“Glory to God to the Lowest”

Micah 6:1-8           


            This is a picture of the oldest standing church in the world.  It’s called the Church of the Nativity and it’s located in the little town of Bethlehem.  The church was built in the fourth century AD over the site where Jesus, whose birth we just celebrated, was born.

            Unlike most cathedrals which have a huge main door, like St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome where the door is 25 feet tall … to enter the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, you have to walk through this door.

            This door is called the Door of Humility.  The door is only four feet tall and two feet wide.  Back in antiquity, the reason for a low door was to keep people from riding their horses and carriages into the church.

            In Luke 2:14, the angels sing “Glory to God in the highest.”  But to get to Jesus you have to bend and kneel, you have to go down and get low.  The Church of the Nativity announces, “Glory to God to the lowest.”

            That’s not what the people in Micah’s day thought. “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?  (Just a side note, why ten thousand rivers, ten thousand was the highest number in Hebrew.) Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (6:6-7).

            The people of Micah’s day sang, “Glory to God to the highest.”  And, they said, “We’re the highest.  We’re the holiest!  We’re the brightest and we’re the best!

            This resonates with all of us right?  There’s a part of all of us which often thinks, “I’m the brightest!  I’m the best!”  After all, I’m an AmeriCAN, not an AmeriCANT.  I can do anything!  “Glory to God to the highest!”

            But what does Micah say?  “Glory to God to the lowest.”  “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).  Let’s unpack these last five words, “walk humbly with your God.”

            Walk.  Not sit.  Walk.  Not stand.  Walk.  Move and make progress with Jesus.

            Imagine you and a close friend are walking down a country lane.  You talk.  You laugh.  You listen.  You share your heart.  Your attention is focused on your friend to the exclusion of everything else.  You’re in harmony.  You both enjoy your close relationship.  Your hearts are knit together as one.

            Walk.  Not sit.  Walk.  Not stand.  Walk.  Move and make progress with Jesus.

            Walk.  Don’t run.  Now I know some people like to run, I don’t, but some do.  But Micah says, “walk.”  Whether we run or not, we can all slow down.  We can all take a deep breath.  We can all stop trying to figure out everything and everyone every time.

            Walk humbly.  “Humble” comes from the Latin word humus.  Humus is where we also get the English word, “human.”  See where I’m going with this?  Humble and human go together.  God is God.  We are not.  God is in charge.  We are not.  God calls the shots.  We don’t.

            Abraham back in Genesis 18:27 says, “I am but dust and ashes.”  Moses asks in Exodus 3:11, “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah?”  While in the throne room of God, Isaiah cries out “Woe is me! I am ruined” (6:5).  John the Baptist says in John 3, “Christ must increase. I must decrease” (3:30).  And Paul in 1 Timothy 1 admits, “I am the chief of sinners” (1:15).  Not I was, but I am the chief of sinners.  To get to Jesus you have to bow down and get low.

            One child wrote this to Santa: “Dear Santa, you didn’t bring me anything good last year.  You didn’t bring me anything good the year before that.  This is your last chance. Signed, Alfred.”

            Another child wrote: “Dear Santa, three little boys live at our house.  There’s Jeffrey; he’s 2.  There’s David; he’s 4.  And there’s Norman; he’s 7.  Jeffery is never good. David is sometimes good. Norman is always good. Santa, this is Norman.”

            I’m not Norman.  You’re not Norman.  None of us is Norman.  We’re all messed up.  We have ugliness and sin in our hearts.  We know about failure, about deep and lasting failure.

            Walk … humbly …with your God.  Micah doesn’t write, “Walk humbly with God.”  Micah writes, “Walk humbly with your God.”  The word “your” implies something.  It implies a relationship!  He is your God!  Be sure of that!  Whatever may come to us, have no doubt, not even a shadow of a doubt!  You’ve been baptized!  God says in Isaiah 43:1, “I’ve redeemed you.  I’ve called you by name.  You are mine.”  He is your God!

            Back in July of 1994, scientists watched a huge meteor crash into Jupiter.  They were amazed to see the huge cloud of dust which rose into Jupiter’s atmosphere.  Scientists soon theorized about the planet-wide effects of that massive collision.

            It took a while, but eventually someone asked the most obvious question.  “What if that had been us?”  Is there a coincidence that four years later a movie by the title Armageddon came out which fictionally played out that scenario?  Maybe.

            If the heavens ever converged with the earth … that would change everything!  Literally!  Brace yourself because you know … it actually happened.

            The heavens converged with earth.  Your God, my God, our God, descended upon planet earth.  Ground zero of this eternity-changing event was where?  An animal feeding trough in a messy manger in the little town of Bethlehem. This event changes everything.  “Glory to God to the lowest.”

            But also glory to God in the lowest.  God’s glory is in the lowest places.  God became human … humus.  God humbled himself.

            John 1:1, 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  2 Corinthians 8:9 Paul writes, “He who was rich for our sake became poor.”  In Philippians 2:7, “He emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.”  See how low he goes.  Glory to God in the lowest.

            The Bible’s central message isn’t our search for Christ.  The central message is Christ’s search for us.  Christ comes down into our mess, muck, and mire.  Christ comes down to save us from sin because we’re helpless to save ourselves.  Christ doesn’t stand aloof and disconnected.  Christ doesn’t come for the highest and holiest, but for the lowest and the least.  Christ comes for humus people, humble people.  He comes for people who are willing to admit that they’re POH … plain ol’ human.

            On Christmas Day in 1527, Martin Luther preached these words.  “Reason and will would ascend and seek above {Glory to God to the highest}, but if you would have joy, bend yourself down to this place.  There you will find that child given for you who is your Creator lying in a manger.  I know of no God but this one in the manger and on the cross.”  It’s no wonder that Micah writes, “Walk humbly with your God.”   

            Glory to God in the lowest.  And the absolute lowest place wouldn’t be that manger.  No, the absolute lowest place would be a cross.  Cicero, a Roman politician who died in 43 BC wrote that the cross is“the most cruel and hideous of all tortures.”  That’s our God … that’s the God of the manger.  The God of the cross, with bloody hands stretched out … He’s the God who comes down to our gutter.

            “Come to Bethlehem and see, him whose birth the angels sing.  Come, adore on bended knee, bended knee, Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

            Glory to God, in the lowest, to the lowest, for you!  Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever.  Amen.


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