Advent MW 4                                          Dec. 22, 2021,                           St, John, New Orleans 

Have you ever been given advice that something was, “a sure thing?” 

You know, good advice that couldn't lead you down the wrong path? 

Or an investment opportunity that couldn't fail to appreciate? 

Or maybe it was a loan or credit application that said, “pre-approved!” 

but, upon closer inspection, was followed by an* which said, 

“following a sufficient credit check,” or, “for those with acceptable credit scores?”

Even when you think you know what you are getting into, nothing in life is a sure bet. 

Nothing in life, it would seem, is guaranteed. 

People get sick at the worst times.

Our car can breakdown when we can least afford the repairs. 

Weather messes up our travel plans.

Death takes a spouse before we have had time to enjoy retirement together. 

And when something is a sure bet, we tend to take it for granted. 

With little to risk, the rewards are often not so spectacular. 

That which comes easy, we tend to begin to accept as normal, and even expected. 

But then, when it's gone, you gain a new appreciation for it. 

Like many of the freedoms we had before Covid, 

or the carefree life you enjoyed before your children were born, 

or the ease of motion and flexibility you had before you became, well, more “mature,” shall we say?

In Micah’s time Israel had become complacent where God was concerned. 

Prophets had come and gone. 

Each telling Israel to remain faithful to God. 

Each one demonstrating how Israel had become self-centered and wicked 

and, usually, the people would listen and make their way back to God. 

But now, in these last days, the prophet’s words fell on deaf ears with increasing frequency. 

After Micah, God would discontinue speaking to God's people through the prophets. 

The old words would have to do, and they were sufficient. 

But God told Micah to let them know this anyway. 

“Therefore, he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth.” 

that is, until the Messiah is born.

Sometimes we might feel abandoned by God. 

I'm sure some in Israel from 500 BC until Jesus’ birth felt that way. 

But just as they were not alone, neither are we! 

All of us here have been given what is needed in scripture 

to keep him with us 

and to know what he has done for us. 

And what he expects in return. 

Whether it was the Old Testament believers or the New Testament believers like you and me,

at times, God goes silent so that we can reflect on our current situation 

and seek answers from our past.

 both from what he has he's told us previously in scripture, 

and how he has demonstrated his power and love for us through our life’s experiences.

And it should not surprise us that this sort of reflection and assessment would be effective. 

Our past is often instructive, especially in terms of observing our human behavior. 

But also, in our observances of God's response to our interactions with him. 

We even have adages that we wistfully quip concerning these times. 

We say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” 

or, “you can't teach an old dog new tricks,” 

and, “there is nothing new under the sun. What we see today we've seen before.” 

Yet, at times, we just need a good “time out” to get us out of our immature petulant rant.

 time to vent out our frustration 

and maybe even feel sorry for ourselves for a while, 

before we can even hear the good news of God's love from another, 

much less go looking for it for ourselves or remembering it from our past.

But eventually, we come to our senses and are ready to hear and learn from God again.