Christmas Eve – 2017 LSB #803
Text – Psalm 8:9
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
HOW LITTLE. HOW MAJESTIC!
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Now, that’s not a question. It is praise. The sentence ends with an exclamation point: “How majestic is your name in all the earth!” And above the heavens. And, in all the universe. Nevertheless, we should still ask the question, especially on the night of Christmas Eve: How majestic is our Lord?
Take a look at this number. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is one septillion, with 24 zeros. When astronomers look into the most powerful telescopes & begin to ‘count’ the number of stars in the observable universe, they figure about 400 billion stars in our average sized galaxy, the Milky Way.
They estimate there are around 2 trillion galaxies. Multiple those two numbers together & you get just short of a septillion. That’s quite a number & the Triune God created the universe. How majestic is that! How majestic is our God!
The writer of Psalm 8, King David from ancient Israel, had no idea how huge the universe really was, but he knew how small he was in comparison. He asks, “Who am I? What is man that you are mindful of him?” Or of us? Each one of us is just a teeny, tiny little speck in comparison to the vastness of God’s universe.
If we put all the people who have ever lived into one spot, the billions & billions of people, together we would still be just a minuscule, microscopic dot in a tiny corner of one galaxy. Who am I? Who are you? Why would God even notice us? But he does.
King David looks at all that God has created & says it is the work of God’s fingers. In Psalm 139, David wrote that God formed his inward parts. God knit him together in his mother’s womb. God’s fingers knitting him together. He praises God because he is fearfully & wonderfully made. Same for us. God’s fingers knit you together when you were at your tiniest, in your mother’s womb. The God who created the entire universe takes the time to fearfully & wonderfully knit us together, right down to our own fingers.
A woman once made a present for her mother with the help of her children. She had them rub their hands & fingers in paint. Then, carefully, their hands were pressed to the front of a sweatshirt. Below the handprints of tiny fingers, it says, Best Great Grandma Around, Hands Down. The God of the universe knits each of us together in His own special way.
What’s more, God even listens to the praise of the littlest of us – the children & babies. In Matthew 21, Jesus quotes Psalm 8 when the children sing “Hosanna” to Him in the temple & on Palm Sunday. He mentions the praise for Him that comes out of their mouths. In our day it’s easy to think of how the youngest children in a Christmas program sing that praise.
For many, it might have been the 1st time we sang in front of the church. Dressed as little angels or lambs, the voices sing, “Away in a manger no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.” And what’s the next line? “The stars in the sky look down where He lay. The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”
From the septillion stars above to the tiniest voices below, all give praise to our majestic God. Yet there’s more. In the 1st book of the Bible, which tells of God creating everything, we read that not only are we wonderfully made, but we are specially made in God’s image. God doesn’t tells us what that all means, but we are created to be in a special relationship with Him.
We can think, feel, talk, love & trust our God. We can praise Him. Though we were made just a little lower than the angels, in fact, God has placed us over the rest of His earthly creation. King David wrote, “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands.” (Psalm 8:6 ESV) Sheep, oxen, birds & fish, whatever; we have been given the special task to care for this incredible world God has given us to live in. Specially knit together right down to our fingers, He listens to our praise even while we are so small. Special relationship with God; special responsibility to care for His creation – no wonder King David gives praise:
“How majestic is your name, O Lord, in all the earth!” But how little have we used our fingers, hands & voices to live as His special people? We have not cared for His creation as He wanted us to. In the garden of Eden, Adam & Eve took that special relationship, being just a little lower than heavenly beings, & tried to be like God.
The one thing God told them not to do, they did. Their fingers reached out to forbidden fruit, & ever since, the image God created us in, & all of creation, have suffered. Animals kill people. People kill each other. Whole species are destroyed in the name of progress. We invent machines, & then pollution dirties the beauty of our Lord’s handiwork.
We can split the atom to make electricity or to vaporize God’s creation. The Internet brings information & speed to life, but also pornography, scams & identity theft. Guns are used for crime & to threaten & terrorize students on campuses. Nature turns on us & firefighters lose their lives in a wildfire. Tornados ravage elementary schools & homes.
But the children, the littlest among us, are most vulnerable. Instead of praise their voices are silenced while they starve with a vacant look in their eyes. They cry as they are sold into prostitution. They whimper as they’re bullied & abused. With almost no restrictions on abortion they seem most vulnerable & unprotected when they are at their tiniest in their mothers’ wombs.
How horrendously we have treated God’s wonderfully made creation, & horribly marred His image in us. That’s not praise. It is the awful reality we now live in. If it was set to music, it would sound like discordant notes on the piano. Yet, in the midst of this mess we’ve made, one star stands out from all the rest. One star is given a special task. One star shone bright long ago. Wise men were looking for a newborn king. They have only a star to go by. They have only the guidance of one out of a septillion to bring them to Jesus. Yet that star does its work well. It shines its light on Jesus.
Jesus does just the opposite of Adam & Eve. They wanted to move up & become like God. Jesus comes down & becomes one of us. God himself takes on a human body & is born in Bethlehem. A newer Christmas song, “Mary Did You Know,” sings of this wonder, this marvel of the majesty of God becoming the name of Jesus:
“Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with His hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God?”
Mary holds Jesus in her hands. Her fingers caress his face. She puts her index finger into his hand & his little fingers wrap around it. God’s fingers that created the septillion stars are now just like yours & mine. He became one of us. He grows up to use His fingers, His hands to the glory of His name: Jesus – the One who saves us. Watch Him use His fingers.
A man with leprosy, a disease making a human being unclean & dead in the eyes of others, cries out for help. Jesus’s fingers reach out to touch him, to touch him. And in the majesty of God’s power, he is made whole in body & soul.
A woman is caught in adultery. The law demands that she die. The religious leaders bring her to Jesus. He writes something on the ground with His fingers. We don’t know what. Then He tells the crowd that the one without sin is to throw the 1st stone. No one does. The woman goes away forgiven & free.
A man is born blind. He’s never seen anything. Jesus comes along & has compassion on the man. He spits on the ground, makes some mud & His fingers rub it on the man’s eyes. The majestic power of God is seen once again. The man sees & does even more. He believes that Jesus is the One, the very Son of God, who will save him for life eternal.
Looking closer at Psalm 8 we find it’s not just about us. It’s about Jesus too. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels in His humiliation. He was crowned with glory & honor, although, to us, a crown of thorns doesn’t look like honor. But the Son of God was doing just what His name calls for Him to do.
He is honoring what His Father gave Him to do. He gives His life for the whole of God’s creation. When His fingers go limp on the cross, they bring forgiveness for our failures, life for our death, hope for our despair, joy for our sadness, & peace for our violent world.
On the 3rd day His body comes back to life. His fingers, once stiff in death, move again. A body broken is now glorified. A body buried is now honored by knees that bow down to Him & voices that sing His praise. And God has placed all creation under His feet. How majestic is the name of Jesus!
We’ve been specially created, knit together by His fingers right from the very conception of life. We now have that special relationship with God restored by Jesus doing just what Psalm 8 called for. We still have that special task – taking care of His creation. There are multitudes of ways for us to care for God’s world, but let’s draw from Psalm 8 & care for the most vulnerable.
Pray for the children. Protect them from violence. Help feed & build them up to stand strong. Bring them to Jesus. Teach them the faith, so they might sing, as David says in Psalm 8, “out of the mouths of babies & infants God has established His strength.” Sonshine ECC & Holt Lutheran School are part of that. Then remember, all of us are children of God. Amen.
All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth & heaven reflect Thy rays, stars & angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise. Field & forest, vale & mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea, chanting bird & flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee. Amen. LSB 803:2.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet