Wednesday, February 27, 2008

“How Long?”

Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-16[1]

Most people who have lived in Texas any length of time have heard one of our favorite sayings: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute and it will change!” Except when it doesn’t. Last Summer, most of us were asking how long it would keep raining! I don’t know about you, but my backyard turned into a swamp last Summer! It rained so much I think some of us must have been looking for Noah and his Ark!

At the time when our scripture text was uttered, the people of Israel were asking “how long?” They had been sent into exile in Babylon and everything about their former way of life had been destroyed. Their dreams had been shattered, families had been torn apart, and even the Temple lay in ruins. And they wondered how long it would last. Then they saw the light of God’s deliverance and they were able to return to their homeland, only to find that it was still in ruins. They had left one kind of exile for another! And they wondered how long it would last.

In our day, it seems like people everywhere seem to be “desperately seeking God.” And yet the more people cry out to God the more distant he seems to be. In the meanwhile people run from one spiritual “guru” to another hoping to find the solution. Like the people of Isaiah’s day, many wonder how long this spiritual predicament will last. But the painful truth that the prophet Isaiah declared is that we must look inside ourselves if we would experience God in a new and fresh way.

Despite the fact that the Jewish people were apparently extremely diligent about worshiping God, the prophet Isaiah told them that the “times of refreshing” would come only after they truly repented and bore “fruit worthy of repentance.” Like the other prophets of his day, Isaiah paints a sad picture of the spiritual condition of Israel. The people of Israel talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk.[2] They busied themselves with the routines of their worship, and wondered why they no longer experienced God’s blessing.

The answer Isaiah gave was rather stinging indictment:

• Even in their worship they “served their own interest” (Isaiah 58:3);

• Their lives betrayed the sham of their profession of devotion to God (Isaiah 58:2);[3]

• They completely missed the purpose for their worship—to transform life (Isaiah 58:6-7).[4]

The people of Israel made a show of practicing their faith but failed to do what was right. The fact that they would leave their worship to go out and withhold fair wages from their workers made it clear that their outward profession of faith did not relate to any inward spiritual reality. Isaiah didn’t let them off the hook with some theoretical ideas about how their lives should be lived. He was quite specific: they were to restore justice to the oppressed, they were to feed the hungry, they were to help those who were afflicted, and they were to provide clothing for the naked.

Isaiah promised that when they repented of their ways, ways that oppressed the poor and denied justice to the weak, then and only then would they experience the renewal of God’s blessings. Then and only then would the light “break forth like the dawn,” and their healing will “spring up quickly” (Isa. 58:8). Then and only then would the “gloom” that blanketed them turn to light (Isa. 58:10). Isaiah was so sure of this promise that he concluded it with, “the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

It’s a wonderful promise, but that’s not what we want to hear when we ask “how long?” We would rather not have to face the painful truth that the problem may lie within us. We would rather not have to put forth the effort to make the changes that need to be made. Unfortunately, that’s not one of the options. Over and over again, the Bible insists that those who truly know God will truly love others by practicing justice and mercy toward the destitute and disenfranchised.[5]

One of the hard lessons of Isaiah is that when the worship of God does not produce lives of love and justice and mercy, it is not the worship of God.[6] Methodist Bishop William Willimon put it this way: “The word ‘liturgy’ means literally ‘the work of the people.’ Worship is the work of the people of God. ... The test for Sunday is what we do on Monday. ... What we believe about God is to be put into practice, embodied. As Isaiah tells us, it’s no good just to prattle on about God with our lips; it’s got to take over our lives.”[7] May God continue to challenge us until our worship in this place spills out from these walls and takes over our lives.

[1] © 2008 Alan Brehm. A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm on 2/3/08 at First Presbyterian Church, Dickinson TX.

[2] Isaiah 29:13: “these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote.”

[3] Isaiah 58:2: they acted “as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God.”

[4] Isaiah 58:6-7: “Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, …?”; cf. James 1:26-27.

[5] Cf. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I:2, 371: “As we come to faith, we begin to love. If we did not begin to love, we would not have come to faith”; cf. also Emil Brunner, Justice and the Social Order, 117: “Love can only do more, it can never do less, than justice requires.”

[6] Cf. John D. W. Watts, Isaiah 34-66, 277; cf. also Paul Hanson, Isaiah 40-66, 205: “This passage … locates God’s central concern in the exercise of justice and the practice of compassion. Without these, all the pious motions of religion are mere ‘as ifs’.”

[7] William Willimon, “When In Our Music God is Glorified,” a sermon preached 2/7/1999 at Duke Chapel; accessed at sunday/viewsermon.aspx?id=19.

“A Land of Deep Darkness”

Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 4:12-23[1]

The prophet Isaiah spoke of his land as a “land of deep darkness.” It was a time when the people of Judah faced threats all around them—most immediately from their brothers and sisters in the northern kingdom of Israel and their allies in Syria. And the problem was compounded because their leaders—kings and priests and prophets alike—ignored God’s truth and instead sought protection from powerful but dangerous nations like Egypt and Assyria. And the end result was that the people lived under the yoke of oppression.

It’s hard for most of us to imagine what it’s like to live in a world where oppression defines one’s daily life. We have lived our lives in relative ease and prosperity. Of course, we’ve all had our share of hardships and suffering, but hard-core oppression is not part of our life experience. Consider this:

•There are places in the world where a person can be arrested and held in prison indefinitely without benefit of a fair and speedy trial.

•There are places in the world where the fact that you were born a woman consigns you to a life of virtual slavery.

•There are places in the world where might still makes right, and powerful warlords commanding private militias armed to the teeth can take whatever they want.

That was the situation the people of Judah faced in the days of the prophet Isaiah. They lived in a land of deep darkness.

But Isaiah did not face this darkness with the resignation of despair. He saw a light that was on the horizon. He knew that God is above all faithful to his people. He also believed that God had promised to send one who would lift the burden of oppression and the yoke of bondage from his people, just as God had done for the Jewish people enslaved in Egypt.

Unfortunately, in our day we have missed the point of this promise. Like many Christians before us, we have co-opted Isaiah’s faith in a faithful God to confirm our faith in Jesus the Christ. We cannot read this passage without thinking of Christmas, and the birth of Jesus. Now I will be among the first to point out that Isaiah’s beautiful poetry points beyond any Jewish leader of his day.[2] But first we have to recognize that he probably wasn’t thinking of someone in the distant future (Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus!). He had in mind someone who would deliver the Jewish people from the oppression they suffered in his day.

I think one of the important factors in hearing what Isaiah has to say to us here is that he does not have a specific person in mind. The identity of this deliverer is completely ambiguous. He would be a king who would actually deserve all the lofty titles ascribed to rulers—like wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, and prince of peace.[3] But his specific identity remains uncertain. What Isaiah did have in mind was that this coming one would bring peace and justice to his people.[4] He would deliver them from their oppressors and set them free from their chains. And the end result would be that they would be able to live and thrive and rejoice like people gathering an abundant harvest. They would be able to live without the fear of violence at the hands of the next warlord to come to town—in fact all the military equipment would be burned!

So the point of Isaiah’s hope is not the identity of a specific individual who was to come, but rather the nature of what he would accomplish—freedom from slavery, relief from the burden of injustice, safety to live and thrive in their own land. We are still looking for those things, aren’t we? Although most of us have never lived under oppression, there are people all around us who have and still do!

•There are people in our community neither have the money nor the legal standing to hope that they would receive justice from the authorities.

•There are men and women who live out their lives in various forms of slavery—right here in our town!

•There are still the “powerful” who can take whatever they want from some people in our community.

If you have your eyes open, it’s not hard to see that we live in a land of deep darkness!

What does Jesus offer to them and to us? The light of hope. To them and to us, Jesus offers the promise that God will lighten the darkness with his continual presence, just like the pillar of fire that followed the children of Israel in the wilderness.[5] To them and to us, Jesus offers the promise that one day God’s name will be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven and God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven and God’s purpose will be done on earth as it is in heaven! And that means a day when all oppression is undone and all violence is banished and all injustice is removed. [6] And what remains is peace and justice—the joy of living the life God intended for us all to live

What Jesus brings to us is the ongoing hope that God is working to bring that to us all, and that God will not stop until “the zeal of the Lord of hosts” achieves that hope. And it is our sacred task to share the light of that hope with those around us living in this land of deep darkness.[7]

[1] © 2008 Alan Brehm. A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm on 1/27/08 at First Presbyterian Church, Dickinson TX.

[2]B. Childs, Isaiah, 80; Cf. O. Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12, 217-18.

[3] B. Childs, Isaiah, 81; O. Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12, 211-214.

[4] Christopher Seitz, Isaiah 1-39, 85-86; cf. O. Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12, 208; cf. also J. Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit, 78.

[5] O. Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12, 207-8.

[6] J. Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ, 121: “God’s justice and righteousness brings shalom to both his people and land.” Cf. also Nicholas Wolferstorff, “Justice as a Condition of Authentic Liturgy,” Theology Today 48 (April, 1991) 16.

[7] J. Moltmann, Church in the Power, 83: “Through his death and resurrection the church participates in his mission, becoming the messianic church of the coming kingdom and man’s liberation.” In this sense, he says (p. 84) we are to be an “exodus church” in our world today. Cf. also 215-226.

“Too Small A Thing”

Isaiah 49:1-7[1]

The 1995 classic film Braveheart is a stirring tale of courage. It is set in the late 13th century, when the English King Edward I attempted to claim lordship over Scotland. In fact, it was a time when Scotland’s nobles fought with each other over divided loyalties. In the film, William Wallace leads a rebellion against the English King. But the Scottish lords are too wrapped up in their own selfish interests to get behind it. At one point, he attempts to rally the Scottish lords to his cause, and he says, “There's a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom.”

What is the purpose of privilege? That is a question the Jewish people were dealing with in the days of the prophet Isaiah. They had a strong sense of being a “peculiar people,” a nation chosen and blessed by God. But as Isaiah’s contemporaries Amos and Micah also make clear, the Jewish people had turned that blessing into a privilege and they thought it would spare them from all harm, even from suffering the consequences of their disobedience to God. It seems clear that there were many prophets, priests and teachers in Israel who reassured the people that the impending doom Isaiah warned them about would never fall on them because they were God’s “chosen people.”

Besides exposing the folly of that kind of thinking,[2] Isaiah also reminded them that the purpose of their calling in the first place was not simply their own privilege and prosperity, but so that they might be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:6). This theme goes back to the days of the Exodus, when Moses had said that they would be a “priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), a whole nation of people who would speak for God and represent God’s saving purposes in the world.[3] It goes back even beyond that to the days when Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees, and God called him to leave for a place “to be determined at a later date”! The purpose was to make Abraham a blessing to all people: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).[4]

Somewhere along the way, however, that outlook got lost. But the Jewish people didn’t have a corner on that market. The church throughout the ages has made the very same mistake. Like the Jewish people of old, Kings and popes and preachers of all kinds have mistaken God’s blessing for their privilege.

I fear this is the greatest challenge the church faces today. Not just this church, but churches of all sizes and stripes and flavors in our society. What seems to be happening in our society as a whole is that we have lived with some 50 years of relatively unbroken prosperity. And the more money we have the more stuff we get. And the more stuff we have, the more stuff we think we need, so we get even more! Our whole culture has become one big festival of giving ourselves whatever our hearts desire, of doing whatever we want to find “fulfillment,” with no serious regard for anybody else!

And unfortunately, I fear that mindset is infiltrating the church. More and more churches are succumbing to the temptation to make the Christian faith one big self-help movement. Even worse, some have turned Jesus into the great “genie” in the sky who gives us all the wishes our hearts desire if we just have enough “faith.” Even more traditional churches are full of people who come to church to be “fed,” or to get a religious “high,” or simply to show off!

But the God whom Isaiah called his people to worship is “the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28), the one who “sits above the circle of the earth” and “stretches out the heavens like a curtain” (40:22). The God who called them and us to serve as light to the world is the who said, “I made the earth, and created humankind upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host” (Isaiah 45:12). Do we really believe that such a God is concerned about whether I get my next toy, or you get a newer car, or anyone else gets to move up the career ladder to a bigger paycheck?[5] As Isaiah said so long ago, that’s “too small a thing” for the God who is in the process of “making everything new.”

When we walk down that path, we not only make our God too small, we abandon the very lifeblood of the church—which is the same task as the servant Isaiah spoke of so long ago. Like God’s “servant” we are called to bring saving justice to those who have been written off—the life-giving justice of God’s kingdom. It’s a justice that says to the hungry “here’s food,” and to the stranger, “you’re welcome here.” The point of it all is not to make our wishes and dreams come true, but to “transform the world into the kind of world God had in mind when He created it.”[6] Anything less than that is “too small a thing” for the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ who is working through the Spirit of life to make all things new! And it’s “too small a thing” for us as well.[7]

[1] © 2008 Alan Brehm. A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm on 1/20/08 at First Presbyterian Church, Dickinson TX.

[2] Amos 3:2 says it is precisely because they were God’s chosen people that they would be disciplined for their sins!

[3] Richard Bauckham, Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World, 36-41.

[4] Bauckham, 28-36.

[5] Cf. J. B. Phillips, Your God is Too Small, 40, 57, 84.

[6] Harold Kushner, To Life!; accessed at practices/practices.php?id=30&g=1; cf. Bauckham, Bible and Mission, 34

[7] Cf. Paul Hanson, Isaiah 40-66, 131; cf. also Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope, 327-39; Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit, 76-85.

“Do the Right Thing”

Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 3:13-17[1]

This morning I want to revisit a film I’ve talked about before—the 2003 classic Seabiscuit. As many of you know, the film is based on the true story of three men who are broken, wounded, and rejected: Charles Howard, “Red” Pollard, and Tom Smith. Charles Howard was a self-made millionaire whose life fell to pieces when his son died in a tragic accident and his marriage crumbled as a result. “Red” Pollard was a failed prizefighter and failing jockey who was continually fighting against the memories of his family that was destroyed during the Great Depression. And Tom Smith had been a top hand on a ranch in Colorado, but was forced to become a drifter during the Depression, and wound up living in Tijuana, Mexico.

The beauty of the film is that they all find new life and redemption through a horse that was written off as too small and “un-trainable”, but becomes a champion—a horse named Seabiscuit. In a very real sense, they forge a family that brings healing to them all, Seabiscuit included! But the truly amazing fact is that the healing they found through each other had a profound affect on the whole country. In the course of their dramatic transformation, they give hope to millions of average people across the country whose lives had been disrupted and destroyed by the Depression. In a very real sense the horse named “Seabiscuit” became a symbol of hope for average people who had also been written off.

There are some amazing truths tucked away in our lesson from Isaiah for today—first, that God’s “servant” comes to bring justice for those who have been written off. Second, that he does it not by wielding power but through kindness. And third, that part of his goal is to create a community that will practice and promote God’s justice in this world.[2]

First, the servant will bring justice. As we’ve observed many times, from the biblical point of view “justice” means that the hungry are fed, the prisoners are set free, the blind receive their sight, those who are bowed down are lifted up, the strangers have someone to watch over them, and the widows and orphans are supported. It means that those on the margins of social power not only have someone who advocates on their behalf but also someone who takes concrete steps to make their lot in life better. Simply put—justice is what creates the conditions in which all people can thrive.

There are lots of things that people say about God’s servant messiah based on the book of Isaiah, but we often overlook this central truth—the one who serves God’s truth promotes God’s justice.

Second, God’s servant brings God’s justice to those who have been marginalized not by wielding power, but through kindness.[3] There have been many people, kings and popes and preachers of all kinds, who have believed they were promoting God’s justice. But they did so by calling the faithful to some kind of “Holy War” or another. And one of the most important lessons the Bible teaches us about God’s justice is that it cannot be accomplished by just any means. God’s justice can only be achieved through kindness, compassion, and mercy. If it’s done in such a way that it breaks the bruised reeds, then it’s not God’s justice!

Third, God’s servant carries out the work of establishing justice, of “opening the eyes that are blind” and “bringing out the prisoners from the dungeon,” (Isaiah 42:7) not so that those who have been so blessed may simply bask in God’s grace. God’s servant comes to bring God’s justice in order to create a community that will be a “light to the nations.” As Rabbi Harold Kushner puts it, the point of God’s justice is to “transform the world into the kind of world God had in mind when He created it.”[4] That may seem like a daunting task to simple people like you and me. But the truth of experience is that every time we practice the justice of God’s kingdom by treating another human being with kindness, compassion, and mercy, we are transforming this world!

In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Baptism by John, there’s an unusual interchange between the two. John protests that he is unworthy to baptize Jesus. But Jesus insists that it is important to “fulfill all righteousness.” I think Jesus had in mind what Isaiah said about the servant of the Lord carrying out God’s justice. He came to bring to light God’s justice, the justice of compassion. And he did not stop until he had succeeded in “establishing” God’s justice of compassion in the world—even though it led him to an unjust cross.[5]

As we celebrate epiphany in the coming weeks, we are celebrating the unveiling of Jesus as the Christ who has come to bring God’s justice to all who have been written off. We are celebrating the good news that God is already transforming this world, that the light of God’s justice and kindness has already dawned and is dispelling the darkness. And we are committing ourselves to being a community that practices and promotes this way of relating to the people around us, all the people around us, especially the lost and the least and the left out.

[1] © 2008 Alan Brehm. A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm on 1/13/08 at First Presbyterian Church, Dickinson TX.

[2] See Paul D. Hanson, Isaiah 40-66, 41-47; cf. also Brevard Childs, Isaiah, 324-27; Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66, 96.

[3] Cf. Presbyterian Church (USA), The Study Catechism, q. 41; accessed at

[5] Cf. Donald Hagner, Matthew 1-13, 56, 59-60; cf. also Adolf Schlatter, Das Christliche Dogma 533-35.

“Never Alone”

Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25[1]

There is something woven into the fabric of who we are as human beings that cries out for companionship. We are simply not made to be alone. In fact, prolonged periods of forced isolation can damage a person’s very soul. In the 2000 film Cast Away, Chuck Noland is a FedEx executive who survives a plane crash and spends four years stranded on a patch of island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The need for companion-ship is so engrained in him that he makes a “friend” out of a Wilson soccer ball. When “Wilson” goes adrift during his daring escape attempt on a makeshift raft, Chuck weeps bitterly at the loss of his only companion.

I can empathize with that. I’ve never much liked being alone—especially at night. I think I’m probably not the only one who’s felt like that. Business travelers have all kinds of ways of dealing with that feeling—some healthy and some not so healthy. Loneliness is one of the most depressing, most frightening aspects of our human experience. We just need someone to be with us. We don’t even have to like the person, as long as someone is there.

Perhaps that stems from our general feeling of alienation. Deep down, we all have the sense that we’re “mourning in lonely exile here” as the hymn “O Come, O Come Immanuel” puts it. We have a feeling that it is not we who are hiding from God, but rather God is hiding from us while we cry out, “where art thou!” But with the birth of Jesus Christ, God answers that lonely cry with a resounding “Here am I!”

In Matthew’s Christmas story, the angel of the Lord not only explains to Joseph the mystery of Mary’s child but also explains Jesus’ identity. Based on the name “Jesus”, which means “Yahweh is salvation,” this child would save his people from their sins. Matthew views Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the promise of “Immanuel” in Isaiah 7:14![2] That might not resolve much of the mystery for us. The very name “Immanuel” is a strange one. It only occurs three times in the whole Bible (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Matt. 1:23). Matthew follows what seems to a literal translation of the name, “God with us” (Isaiah 8:10). As the “Immanuel,” Jesus is the one who reveals God’s saving presence among his people.

Although the word “Immanuel” may be rare, the concept is not. God’s redemptive purpose has always been an effort to restore the relationship between God and “all the families of the earth,” as the call of Abraham puts it (Genesis 12:3). In a sense, “God with us” permeates all of Scripture![3]

I think it’s important to add a word of clarification here. Many have read the story of Jesus’ mysterious birth as proof of who he is—fully divine Son of God. But the main point of Matthew’s story is not that Jesus is “very God and very man.” If we look at Matthew’s Gospel as a whole, we find that Jesus’ special identity as “Immanuel” is defined in terms of what he does:

• Jesus carries out the role of “Son of God”, or God’s divinely approved envoy;[4]
•Jesus conducts his ministry with authority and power that come from God (Matt. 11:2-6; 28:18);
• Jesus fulfills the promise of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 3:15; 5:17-19; 12:28).

Matthew consistently defines what “Immanuel” means in terms of “he will save his people from their sins.”[5]

If you think about it, that may be the only way to do it. All the efforts of theologians to explain the mystery of Jesus’ identity with abstract theories have failed to make the same impact as Matthew’s simple story of Jesus as “God with us.”[6] From Matthew’s perspective, Jesus demonstrates that he is “God with us” in everything he does: in his obedience to God; in his teaching; in his ministry with authority and power; in his healings; and ultimately through his death on the cross, his resurrection, and ascension. For Matthew, the meaning of Jesus’ birth has to do with the conviction that “in the story of Jesus, God acts.” [7]

Nevertheless, we inevitably have to face the questions a claim like this raises. Think about it—God becoming human. How can something like this be? What does the hymn tune say? “Such a Babe in such a place, can he be the Savior?” It doesn’t seem plausible, does it? And yet perhaps another hymn may provide a clue in the verse, “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.” There truly is something mysterious, something inexplicable about Jesus’ birth. There truly is “something surprising, unexpected about the appearance of salvation.[8]

Why does God go to such lengths to reunite us with himself? Karl Barth says it is because God “does not will to be God without us.” [9] The second verse of “Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light” expresses it perfectly: “He comes in human form to dwell, Our God with us, Immanuel, The night of darkness ending, Our fallen race befriending.”

The hope of advent is that in Jesus the Christ God has already started reclaiming the world for his own out of his settled determination to be “God with us,” not God without us. The joy of advent is that the light of God’s new day is already dawning, and we can already know God’s saving presence in our lives right here and right now. The urgency of Advent is that we are called to join with the risen Lord in sharing this life-giving presence of God with those around us who still feel so desperately alone.

[1] © 2007 Alan Brehm. A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm on 12/23/07 at First Presbyterian Church, Dickinson TX.

[2] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, 57; cf. R. T. France, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, 182–83

[3]cf. Ulrich Luz, Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, 31.

[4]Matthew 3:17; 11:25-27; 16:16-17; 22:41-45; 27:54.

[5]Anthony J. Saldarini, Matthew’s Christian-Jewish Community, 166.

[6]Luz, Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, 32: “The presence of God can only be related and testified, not captured in concepts.”

[7]Luz, Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, 31-33; cf. Matthew 12:28; 17:17; 18:20; 26:29; 28:18–20.

[8]Paul Tillich, “Has the Messiah Come?,” in The New Being, 95. I don’t think anyone could sum it up better than he did: “The mystery of salvation is the mystery of a child.”

[9]Karl Barth, Christian Dogmatics, IV.1: 3-20.