Friday, December 25, 2009

Faith that Sings Back - Christmas Day (Psalm 98)

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Dear Redeemed by Christ, the Word made Flesh:

Sing to the lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel. [And] all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. With trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn. Shout for joy before the Lord, the King. (Psalm 98)

One of the most crushing events anyone can ever experience is being asked by the director, after enthusiastically joining a choir, to only mouth the words while everyone else sings. Imagine being told: "We love having you in our choir — but please don't actually sing any of the words."
It is very unfortunate and it is completely disappointing because it is completely unnatural. Singing with nothing coming out of your mouth. It just shouldn't be because human beings were created to hear and take to heart — and then speak and sing.
That's why the Christian Church has always faithfully passed on the faith to the next generation through the Word of God spoken and preached and shared — and chanted and sung. It wasn't that many years ago when Grandpa would hand on his Bible to his son, and Grandma would hand on her hymnal to her daughter (in addition to both inheriting a well-worn copy of the Small Catechism).
But all of that seems to have changed these days — especially at Christmas. We have allowed those running the show to tell the faithful: "We love having you in the sanctuary — but please don't try to sing your faith — we have a praise band and a professional vocalist for that."
Five hundred years ago there was a reformation that not only put the Bible back into the hands of God's people, but the hymns of the Christian Church as well. By God's grace, Luther realized that faith wants to sing — true Christian faith needs to sing. No wonder one of the annual articles put out on the Reformation information table is titled: "If you sang a hymn in church this Sunday, thank Luther."
To a Church who thought song was the exclusive property of the monks and their choirs, the Reformation had something very definite to say. For faith — true Christian faith — cannot but sing back to God his Word and his Christ and his Font and his Table and his Birth, Death, his Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.
In this sanctuary this morning the Word of God spoken and sung is not the exclusive property of Italian-speaking opera singers or Latin-speaking monks and nuns. The song of Christmas comes from Prophets and Angels and Apostles — to God's people — to change hearts and strengthen faith as it returns back to heaven. Salvation through our ears and through our hearts and minds and then through our mouths back to God and to our neighbor.
That was the way it went in the days of great King David and in the days when shepherds who hadn't taken a music lesson in their life sang to all who would listen on the way back from the manger. (I wouldn't be surprised if, upon their return, the shepherds sang of Emmanuel in the manger even to their sheep.) And this is the way it will be in these last days before our Lord comes back in all power and glory leading heaven's armies upon his war horse to bring a final end to sin and death — to gather all believers in him, that we might sing his praises before his heavenly throne for all eternity.
On this, Christmas Day, true faith wants to listen to the Word of God and then sing — sing to God and sing to anyone else who will listen — about the deep despair of living in sin, cut off from God and from his grace by our rebellious thoughts, words, and deeds — about the poverty of our silly attempts to reconcile ourselves to the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth — about God's own answer to our estrangement and pitiful inability to redeem ourselves or anyone else in the sending of his most precious gift: his only-begotten Son.
On this day, Christmas Day, faith looks to do nothing else but listen to the Word of God — in, with, and through the prophets and apostles, in, with, and through the water of baptism, in, with, and through the bread and wine of the altar — and then, in a trust and joy and confidence that the world knows nothing about — sing back to heaven and earth.
In the manger, God is bringing all things to their fulfillment. He is putting into motion redemption that will bring the Son of God and Mary's Son from the donkeys of Christmas Day to the donkey of Palm Sunday, from the wood and nails of a manger to the wood and nails of a cross, from the cold and dark of a stable cave to the cold and dark of a tomb, that sin would be atoned for, that you might be bought back through the sacrifice of this holy, spotless Lamb of God.
This is the song of the angels. This is the singing faith of the shepherds. This is your song and my song. And we will sing it only as long as we keep our ears close to the Word of God — the Word of God made man.
Speak the Good News. Share the Good News. Sing with the angles and all of creation the Good News of Christmas morn: "Glory to God in the highest, and his saving peace on all upon whom his favor rests."
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve - The Antiphons of Advent - The Desire of Nations

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Dear Fellow-Redeemed in Christ:

From the Prophet Isaiah, the 66th chapter:

The Lord declares: “ ... the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them." (Isaiah 66:18-19 ESV)

We hear it especially during the Christmas season: words of regret and longing and desire that the entire family would be together — around the tree and around the table. Sometimes it is said in whispers and other times it is shouted from the rooftops: "If only the entire family could be together — at the table and under the tree."
For some of us it will be a difficult Christmas because it will be an unfulfilled Christmas. Someone won't be there to cook the roast or string the popcorn or help put another log on the fire or tell a story or join in song.
In spite of all the shopping, in spite of all the wrappings and fancy sparkling things of Christmas, tonight too many of us here will have a Christmas with a loved one absent.
One example comes from my friend from Cambodia. A refugee of a war-torn nation, his family fled the killing fields. Some relatives were killed, others taken prisoner, still others later rescued from a small boat off the coast. But in that rescue, he was separated from his brothers and sisters and parents. Each individual family member who survived the atrocities of civil war was scattered by the relief agencies to different parts of the world: he was sent to Detroit, Michigan. A brother was sent to Tokyo, Japan. Another, Paris, France. His parents to Southern California. A family persecuted and scattered. A household fragmented and broken.
To come together and rejoice around one table, around one tree: this is the desire of so many people — not only on this day of the year, but on every day of the year.
Do you have a secret desire as you come to the Christmas Table, as you come to the Christmas Tree this year? What do you long for — who do you long for — in the still of this night?
What desire is left unfulfilled after all the glitter and tinsel of the world's spin on Christmas? The desire to be with an absent loved one? The hope-against-hope longing to be reconciled with another who can't be — won't be — with you to enjoy the food and gifts of Christ under his tree?
The great Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and the ancient antiphons that inspired it, reflect the biblical revelation that is just as true this year as it was thousands of years ago: the world, the nations of the world, peoples and families around the globe come to Christmas with desires that they just cannot fulfill, despite all the legislation from Washington and all the declarations from Stockholm or Copenhagen. Despite all the resolutions by the United Nations, the nations are still — whether they dare to admit it or not — longing for that same peace and fellowship and community and family that we as the human race lost so long ago.
What do you long for — what do you desire — when you find yourself singing the words:

O, come, Desire of nations, bind / In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, / And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel / Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Some things just can't be bought with a gift card or made right with just a New Years' resolution. Despite all our merry-making, all our attempts to drown-out that dark corner of our heart by just playing the holiday music a little louder or adding more lights to the porch or pouring in a little more peppermint schnapps into the punchbowl — try as we may — the deepest of longings of a fallen humanity are still with us — even on Christmas Eve.
Actually, if we are honest with ourselves — it is especially the light of Christmas Eve that brings to light our darkness, our longings, our unfulfilled desires and fears — as individuals, as families, as neighbors and friends, as citizens of a nation and the world.
You see, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is actually a public confession, a prayer set to music, sung to the Lord of heaven and earth. For when we sing the words of this beautiful Christian hymn, we give witness to the teaching of the Old and New Testament — the revelation that we are a broken, fragmented people who cannot make things around the Christmas Table and things around the Christmas tree like they should be, like they once were, like we wish them to be.
And so we despair of ourselves this Christmas night. We despair of our trying through our busyness and buying and bartering to make it all right, to redeem the darkness and hidden longing that comes with Christmas.
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is a great hymn for the Christmas season because it takes our eyes and preoccupations off self and puts them where all true desires are fulfilled: on the One who comes from heaven above, the One who is the true Desire of all families and peoples and nations, the One given the name Emmanuel — God-with-us-to-save.
The hymns of the Christian Church — the liturgy and readings of the Christian Church — announce again this night that there is a world of difference between simply making ourselves merry for a few days around Christmas and receiving, by God's undeserved grace, a blessed Christmas, a lasting Christmas, despite our losses, despite our weaknesses, despite our fallenness and sin and inability to create the Christmas Table and Christmas Tree we know we long for.
For the God-ordained scandal of Christmas Eve is something that flies in the face of everything we would have ever expected: the announcement from a cattle shed that gives that peace and that joy and that family and community that won't break a week later, won't run out of batteries a month from now, won't be traded in for another color or size or re-gifted and placed on the dollar table at a garage sale.
Hear the Word from heaven tonight: Emmanuel has come. The desire of the Nations and the Price of true Peace has come in this lowly, common-enough looking child in the straw of a Bethlehem manger. The savior of wandering shepherds and cynics. The redeemer of those oppressed by their sins and shortcomings. Emmanuel, God-with-us, come to deliver us, even from our fears of bearing the burden of another unfulfilled Christmas — another year of missing family and friends around tree and table.
For the Son of God and Mary's Son has come to do what all our will-power was always unable to do, what all the mistletoe and merry-making could never accomplish, what holiday wishes just couldn't make a lasting reality.
It is this Christ child who has been sent to set the table and decorate the tree. It is the baby Jesus who alone can bring the nations together around tree and table — his Table and his Tree.
For Christ is the true Manna from heaven. It is this one child who is, as Martin Luther use to say, the cook and the waiter and the meal at the true table of reconciliation. He prepares the table — his table, and feeds us with his very body and blood — forgiving sin, strengthening faith and establishing a communion — a holy and eternal communion with God and with each other.
Yes, Christ sets the table and gathers the peoples around it. He fashions the tree and draws the nations around it. For, as by a tree humanity fell into sin, so through a tree redemption for us has been won.
Jesus himself revealed the same when he foretold, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32 ESV)
The true desire of all people, all nations, all families broken and scattered by sin has come hidden, wrapped in swaddling linens and laid in a manger.
What is needed to have a jolly Christmas is anyone's guess. But — as baptized Christians — what is necessary for a blessed Christmas? The table of Christ. The tree of Christ. God's gracious invitation. And the Word made flesh for you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The "O Antiphons of Advent" - O Key; O Dayspring (Isaiah 9:1-7; Malachi 3:1-7, 16-4:5; Acts 26:1-18)

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Dear Redeemed by Christ:

O Key of David: Come — and rescue.
O Dayspring, O Morning Star: Come — and enlighten.

The coming of deliverance; the advent of Light. These are the themes sung in the fifth and sixth stanzas of the great Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." After offering our petition for the advent of Emmanuel, Heaven's Wisdom, Lord of Might and Branch of Jesse's Tree, we call out: "O come, Thou Key of David and do your saving work of opening and closing." "O come, Thou Dayspring from on high and do your redeeming work of driving away the darkness of death."
And on what basis can we pray these kinds of prayers set to music? Where do these words come from? How do we in the 21st century find ourselves joining the 4th century author in praying this way, with these words that seem at first glance so strange — so cryptic? And what is our assurance that we can rejoice knowing that our Lord hears our prayer set to music — and responds to it in grace and mercy and goodness?
First and foremost is the clear understanding that any prayer worth praying — spoken or sung — is worth praying only on the basis of it's faithful reflection of the Word first spoken to us and to all who will listen to the inspired Scriptures in faith. The reason "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is one of the greatest Advent hymns is not simply that it is a singable tune that you find yourself whistling on the way home from church. That's part of it, but there are plenty of songs that have a catchy tune that don't get us any closer to heaven's door. (The theme song from Green Acres comes to mind.)
Christian hymns — or hymns that call themselves Christian — are only truly Christian if they clearly, faithfully, beautifully reflect the Word of God — the Word of Holy Scripture and Christ's redemptive center through his substitutionary sacrifice in our place. It's not just a matter of counting how many times the hymn uses the name Jesus. Can a hymn pass the "salvation by grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone" test? Then it is a Christian hymn faithful to the Word of God, and an even better hymn if set to an appropriately beautiful tune.
These two verses we pause to ponder this afternoon continue for generation after generation in the Christian Church because they are drawn from Scripture and present in song the same plea all believers offer up before the Lord of heaven and earth.
We as Christians are called upon to critique and evaluate and judge the hymns we sing, the Christian books we read, the prayers we pray on the basis of this one measuring stick: does this faithfully reflect the Scriptures and the salvation revealed in Christ? Is this borne of the revealed Word of God through the prophets and the apostles, or is it simply a product of our own fallen human imagination — the way we think salvation should work, the way I think Christ should operate in my life? God help us always to discern the wheat from the chaff when it comes to what we pray and what we study and what we sing.
And so, directed by the revealed Word of God, we join the voice of the prophets and apostles as we look to our Lord Christ and pray in these days before Christmas: "O come, Thou Key of David and do your saving work of opening and closing." "O come, Thou Dayspring from on high and do your redeeming work of driving away the darkness of death."
It is the babe born in Bethlehem that is our Sun of Righteousness, who comes in grace and mercy and forgiveness with (as the prophet Malachi foretells) healing in his wings — redemption that forever closes the door on our estrangement from God and opens the door only the Christ can open: the gates of an eternal heaven with our Lord and with our loved ones: those who have gone before us clothed in Christ's righteousness — and those who will follow us — the faithful in our households, and the faithful in the household of faith baptized into Jesus' birth and death, his cross and resurrection, his ascension into heaven.
For you see, from the earliest times of the Christian Church — from the time of the apostles — being enlightened by the redeeming rays of Christ and his righteousness was the language of Holy Baptism. Being enlightened had nothing to do with sitting under a tree and contemplating selfish desire or suddenly understanding the wisdom of the world while eating magic mushrooms.
Under the Word of Christ and his messengers, being enlightened is all about Christ coming — Christ's advent — in, with and through the water of the font to bring to light our desperate need to be forgiven, and God's saving work of providing the free gift of redemption through the once-for-all sacrifice of his Son.
And so we sing: "O come, Thou Key of David and do your saving work of opening and closing." "O come, Thou Dayspring from on high and do your redeeming work of driving away the darkness of death."
This is the purpose for which the prophets and apostles were sent out into the world: to serve Christ by witnessing to him and his coming to save through his Word and water and bread and wine.
For the commission of our Lord to the apostle Paul is the commission to the Christian Church in our day: "I am sending you," Jesus says, "to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 26:18 ESV)
Who is properly prepared to receive the Christ child on Christmas Day? Those who can stand before Christ and his Church and confess: I am in bondage and cannot free myself. I am spiritually helpless and a prisoner of a dungeon of my own making. I am chained to my fallen-ness and sin. My rescue lies in the One God himself has appointed to open and to shut. The One who holds the Key and Scepter of Redemption. Who opens and no one can shut. Who shuts and no one can open. Who has won salvation and gifts it to all who will receive it in true faith.
"O come, Thou Key of David and do your saving work of opening and closing." "O come, Thou Dayspring from on high and do your redeeming work of driving away the darkness of death."
We join the prophets and apostles and pray to our Lord: "Come and rescue us; come and enlighten us with your Word." For, as the psalmist has written:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (Psalm 130:1-8 ESV)

God continue to bless our Adventide in Christ the Key, in Christ the Morning Star. Amen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Son of David Greater than David? The 'O Antiphons' of Advent

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Dear Fellow-Redeemed in Christ:

The Holy Gospel According to Saint Matthew, the 22nd Chapter:

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41-46 ESV)

Lord. Son of David. How do the two go together? Can the two go together? And what difference does it make for us in these days before Christmas?
Our Advent Canticle, O, Come, O, Come, Emmanuel puts the two titles together as it assigns both to Jesus — as it assigns both to Jesus, even at his birth. Lord and Son of David. Son of David and Lord.
Now just pause and consider anew how unbelievably silly that all sounds at first. This child? This man? This son of a lowly maiden and a blue-collar carpenter? Born in a forsaken place on the outskirts of a forsaken town? This child? This child king who's court consists of donkeys and horses and cows and the sheep of flee-bitten shepherds? Is this the best the house of David can do?
No wonder this question of Jesus to the unbelieving religious leaders shut down the entire conversation and left those who would not believe that Jesus could be greater than great King David fuming.
The Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of Christmas Day is accepted by the world and our old, worldly nature, just as long as he remains simply a babe in the straw of a manger or just another prophet or just another nice guy with nice intentions.
But watch out. When Jesus claims to be greater than the great Moses or greater than the Ten Commandments he revealed or greater than King David or greater than King David's City, sparks begin to fly. "Who are you, son of Joseph the carpenter of Nazareth, claiming to be greater than Moses and David? How dare you compare yourself to the great Patriarchs of our faith! How irreverent. How insulting. It's blasphemy!"
When Jesus reveals himself as greater than the great King David, greater than the Law of God and the Law-giver of God, there is nothing more to discuss. That was true in Jesus' day and it is true today.
Everyone (well, almost everyone) doesn't mind a Christmas card with some sheep and shepherds and Mary and Joseph and a little baby in a manger. It looks kind of cute and nostalgic and just a little pitiful.
But we confess something impossible for the world to acknowledge, something part of us has a real problem with: Jesus born Lord of Moses and Lord of David. This little baby Jesus - born King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, greater than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Son of David, greater than David.
No one could be asked to believe that could they? The greatest of the great, born in poverty, born after his parents hear that there was no room in the inn for the Son of David who was greater than David himself?
The hymns of Advent are not for our own entertainment or personal amusement. They are to call forth Christian faith in Jesus as Lord and Son of David and sustain it in a world that will give lip service to Christmas Day but just can't believe that the babe of the manger is the Creator of Heaven and Earth and the one Redeemer of all of humanity.
The world would sing:
"O, Come, O Come, Thou Sage of Wisdom, Thou Spiritual Mentor, Thou Great Humanitarian and Friend of the Poor and Downtrodden."
But the world will never put it's faith in Jesus as Emmanuel, God-with-Us-in-Human-Flesh. Our fallen nature will never put all the chips on Jesus as the one Redeemer, the one God-ordained medicine for sin-sick souls, the one heaven-chosen sacrificial substitute for Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob and Jesse — and even Jesse's son, great King David himself.
Each of us is called to confess Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Who, through his death and resurrection fulfilled the Law given through the great prophet Moses on Sinai's height. Who through his death and resurrection graciously gave us victory over sin, death and the devil.
For, you see, Jesus is not only the branch that springs forth from the tree of Jesse, David's father. Jesus is the root of the tree that is all children of the promise given to our first parents as they wept at the revelation of what they had lost in their disobedience and doubt and rebellion — as they wept at the revelation of what would be won back despite their disobedience and doubt and rebellion — by the Son of God and Eve's Son: the Messiah-to-come.
The Son of David greater than David? Most could not believe it — would not believe it.
But a remnant put all their hopes on this Jesus, this son of Jesse's tree who claimed to be the Word of God — the Law of God — in flesh and blood.
People like the two blind men in Matthew, chapter 9. People like the Canaanite woman in Matthew, chapter 15. People like the two blind men in Matthew, chapter 20:

And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:30-34 ESV)

Only those who abandoned the logic and wisdom of the world, only those who received the unbelievable Word of God in faith looked to Jesus as David's greater Son. Only those who will say, "Amen" to heaven's shocking way of salvation can truly sing on Christmas Eve, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me." "Son of David, Kyrie, eleison!"
Advent is a season of preparation — not for those who have finished sending out all their cards and completed all their Christmas shopping — but for those who are, as the Small Catechism teaches us, spiritually blind, dead and enemies of God.
For it is this babe of Bethlehem, the ancestral home of David, that comes — comes in the waters of holy Baptism to have compassion on you, to wash you clean and open your eyes, that you might follow him in faith.

A shoot will sprout from Jesse's stem, / A branch from David's line,
A Price of Peace in Bethlehem: / The fruit of God's design.
("What Hope! An Eden Prophesied" LSB 342:2)

Come, my Lord and Savior. Come, thou Branch and Root of Jesse's Tree. Come, and save with your might hidden in your mercy, your glory covered by your grace, your power serving your pity on your helpless, wandering people. Come — and save.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

O Come, Emmanuel; O Come, Thou Wisdom from on High (An Advent Sermon)

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Dear Redeemed by the Wisdom of God Come in Human Flesh:

Scripture reminds us of the demands made upon God by our rebel world and its inhabitants. "Prove yourself to us and then we will believe in you. Come and show your glory to us and then we will give you our worship and praise. Come and explain yourself to us, show us your wisdom and power and glory, and then we will acknowledge you as God."
That has been the demand set before the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth since the beginning - since the fall into sin by our first wayward parents, Adam and Eve. They demanded an explanation. They desired the wisdom that was with God the Father from before the beginning. But what did they receive on account of their rebellion and doubt and unbelief? A twisted wisdom, a corrupt understanding, a self-centered and sin-stained view of their God, themselves, and the kind of redemption God would set into motion to save the two of them and their children.
For you see God needs to come and save us his way — in a way unknown to the wisdom of the world. In a way unknown to the wisdom of our fallen nature that thinks everything is resolved through the use of human cunning and power and might. It's just like my best friend use to say when he was working on the assembly line in a Chrysler plant: "If it doesn't fit - get a bigger hammer."
That was the way of murderous Cain and inheritance-stealing Jacob. That was the way of those who began to build the Tower of Babel. That was the way of Judas the betrayer. That has been the way of the world and the world's religions. And that is what is being pedaled by today's evangelists of the world's wisdom: turn you life around and take heaven by storm through your great promises and intentions and positive thoughts and good energy. Create your own positive future. Create your own blessed life. Create your own great relationship with God and everyone in your life by creating a new life for yourself.
And our old nature instinctively follows, thinking, "That makes perfect sense. I will create my own redemption through my dedication and decision and determination to make things right between me and my God."
But what do we read in Scripture with the eyes of God-given faith in his Word and Wisdom? Heaven had a very different plan — a plan that was completely outside the box of the world's wisdom, completely foolish and crazy and senseless. A plan that would make mouths drop in speechless awe and amazement. God securing salvation for helpless sinners who put their hope in God's form of wisdom.
God himself would establish salvation for his rebel people. God himself would set up redemption and secure heaven for those who continued to foolishly think they could straighten the whole mess out themselves if just given another chance. And God would do it in a way hidden from the wisdom and logic of the world. God would shatter all human reason by sending forth his very Word to make satisfaction for all sin.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Saint Paul writes to the Church in Corinth:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV)

This week the season of preparation begins, four weeks that calls to us and the world to listen to the Word and Wisdom of God himself. To close our mouths and in silence wait for heaven's own unexpected sign, heaven's own unexpected wisdom in making sense out of what has become a meaningless world of toil and sweat and heartache and despair and death.
In this too-often neglected season of Advent, heaven's wisdom calls out to all who will listen in faith, to all who mourn over their sin, to all who will acknowledge that we are in spiritual exile by what we have inherited from our first parents — and from the sin we have done and the good we have failed to do. Especially the sin of putting our trust in salvation done the world's way - independent of God's Word through the prophets and apostles, independent of God's Word through water, independent of God's Word through bread and wine.
Wisdom calls out, but in a way we would have never guessed, never have imagined in a thousand years. For, when it comes to our salvation, heaven's wisdom cries out — from a lowly manger in a lowly cattle stall in a lowly village, the son of the lowliest of maidens, the son of a lowly carpenter. All to establish God's redemption. All to win his ransomed people. All to shame the wisdom of the world. All to shame what makes perfect sense to us and to those who continue to believe if they just figure everything out, then they will win reconciliation before God and their estranged neighbor on their own terms.
God sent his wisdom to shame the world's wisdom, that we would despair of our own deluded ideas about how we think redemption should work, and embrace the wisdom of God — the wisdom of God that comes not as a coded inscription on an Egyptian pyramid, not as a mysterious date on a Mayan calendar, not as a magic formula re-discovered at Stonehenge, not as the world's practical advise on how to truly find God by truly finding yourself.
What does God declare to that part of each of us that thinks we can figure it all out and discover for ourselves the wisdom that will save our souls and give meaning to the rest of our lives?

... let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:7-11 ESV)

It is the high-soaring Gospel of Saint John that announces to all who will listen with the ears of faith that the Word of God has come in human flesh to redeem human flesh by the once-for-all sacrifice of the Cross.
And it is the antiphons of Advent that proclaim that it is this wisdom from the mouth of God that gives divine order and knowledge of salvation to those who will confess with repentant hearts, "Unless I am taught by the Wisdom of God made flesh and blood, I will perish. Unless I am known by my Redeemer, and connected to his substitutionary death and resurrection, I am an eternal exile of the kingdom of heaven. Unless God sends his dear, only-begotten Son to save, I will die in my sin and foolishness."
The season of Advent would have us prepared for Christmas by the very Word of God, the very Wisdom of God, the very Son of God and Mary's Son, even Christ Jesus our Lord.
The wisdom of God made man — to shatter the foolishness of a world that can only conform Christ's birth to it's own fallen version of power and wisdom and glory and might.

The great Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," and the Advent antiphons that shaped it, call on the faithful to measure our Christmas preparations by the litmus test of God's unexpected wisdom. The wisdom that unites the wood and nails of the manger with the wood and nails of the cross; the wisdom that unites beasts of burden in a Bethlehem cave with those burdened with the load of their sin and shame; the wisdom that will only receive Christmas Day through the lens of Good Friday and Jesus' work on Calvary.
The lowly Son of the virgin Mary sent as the wisdom of God and the sign of God only heaven's gift of faith will see and receive.

O Come, O come, Emmanuel.
O Come, O Come, Thou Wisdom from on High.

Come and do your saving work of revealing and ransoming the clueless, we who would always get it wrong if left to our own fallen intuition and heart and pride. Come and conform Christmas to the image of your incarnate Son — and to the image of his Cross.
In repentant joy, may God through his Word and promise, ever prepare us for his unexpected coming to save.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit