Sunday, December 27th, 2020

The Unsilent Lord

The First Sunday after Christmas [b]                                     December 27, 2020


Isaiah 61:10-62:3

10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;

my soul shall exult in my God,

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;

he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,

and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,

so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise

to sprout up before all the nations.

62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,

until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,

and her salvation as a burning torch.

2 The nations shall see your righteousness,

and all the kings your glory,

and you shall be called by a new name

that the mouth of the LORD will give.

3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,

and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.


In the Name of Jesus.


God will not keep silent, Isaiah says, he will not be quiet.


How will that work?


We listen to what we want to listen to. We have a TV mute button—if we get tired of hearing something, we make it silent. That’s easy. If we mute the obnoxious commercial, no one at the TV station even knows, they are too remote from us. If we switch channels so we don’t have to hear a certain politician, he or she doesn’t even know—they are too distant from us.


And so we can even mute God. Just don’t listen to him. Tune out.


Don’t turn to his word in Scripture to hear his voice; don’t come to the preaching of the Gospel to hear his voice; don’t gather to the word of forgiveness in the Sacrament to hear his voice; don’t pray in order for him to hear your voice. He’s distant, remote. It’s not like he’s right here.


But here we find the good news for the sinner. It’s the Gospel.


He is not distant, he is not remote, he is not removed from our sinful lives.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,”

says the Lord.


He is here, even when we kid ourselves that he’s not. He’s no more distant than a family member at the dinner table.


In the beginning was the Word,”

John tells us,

and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

[John 1:1]


Where the Word is, there’s no silence. There’ s conversation and dialog; there is the speaking of things into existence, there’s creation and life.


But maybe we still think of the Word as far off, remote, distant, as something we need not worry about.

“The Word became flesh,”

says John,

And [the Word] dwelt among us.”

[John 1:14]


He’s no abstract God up in the skies, distant from us; no spiritual being remote from our flesh and blood lives about whom we give no worry because we can’t hear him anyway.


He became flesh; as fully human as you and me. A real flesh and blood baby in the arms Mary. He dwelt among us, talking with people, eating fish with families, drinking wine with neighbors, walking around getting dirt on his feet and sunburn on his face.


Mary’s baby. One thing we can say about babies: they make noise. This God is in the flesh in order to not be a silent God, a God not mute to the sinner.



He’s the Word who with the Father and the Holy Spirit created the world and with that also our parents Adam and Eve.


He’s the Word who brought the rain out of the skies for forty days of judgment, saving only believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all.


He’s the Word who brought down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, who drowned hard-hearted Pharaoh and his army, who held back the jaws of the lions so that Daniel walked out of the den safe, who walked into the fire to be with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to keep them safe—and now he’s the Word make flesh, child of Mary.


He does it all to not keep silent, to not be mute to the sinner, to you and me and our families.


He does it in order to be with those who had not praised God as they should—to be with them in order to forgive them. To be with those of no thankfulness on their lips, in order to speak grace to them. To dwell with those who’ve been stingy, those who’ve delighted not in encouraging and building up others, but in judging and holding on to sins, in order to cleanse them of all unrighteousness.


He became flesh and he dwelt with us in order to be heard. Isaiah 62:1:

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,

until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,

and her salvation as a burning torch.


Zion, that’s the people called to the promise of the Davidic King to be saved from their sin. The new Zion, it’s the Church.


Jerusalem, that’s all those called to be cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice at the Temple. The new Jerusalem, it’s those cleansed by the blood of Christ, it’s the Church.


For the sake of the Church, for the sake of his baptized people, the Lord will not keep silent.


He speaks. This is the good news; this is the Gospel. For to know the Law, we don’t have to hear the Lord’s voice in Scripture—we already know the Law when we look into nature to see things of the sinful world deteriorate. We already know the Law by looking at our own lives to feel the sting in our consciences for sin. We already know the Law by the fact of our own mortality.


But the Gospel is that the Lord will not be mute to the sinner. The Word is not silent. He came in the flesh to speak from the cross, Father, forgive them.


Having been crucified, he descended to Hell to declare to the demons that it’s over, they’ve lost, he has stripped them of their terror, of their hold over sinners, by forgiving sinners, by cleansing our consciences with his Gospel.


Having descended to Hell to proclaim victory over the demons, he then rose from the dead in order to speak to the women at the tomb and to the Apostles to tell them that death is defeated, and the sinner is to hear the Gospel’s word of justification.


Having risen from the dead, he ascended to Heaven and sent forth the Holy Spirit to bring the Word of Gospel to the Church, calling sinners of every nation and every language into the Church, that all would hear the word of grace and be forgiven of sin.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,

until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,

and her salvation as a burning torch.


The new Zion is the Church. The new Jerusalem is all those the Lord gathers to his Name.


It’s you and me and our families. For our sake, he is not silent.


He keeps gathering us. He continues dwelling among us in his Sacrament, declaring us righteous by his blood. He steadfastly speaks to us in his Gospel, by which we are saved from our sin. He keeps coming to his people with his gifts, and he will not be silent.


In the Name of Jesus.