Saturday Sermon: The sound of being rescued
This last September, Adrian Knopp, a hunter from Grand Ledge, Mich., was stranded in the Alaskan wilderness with no food, shelter or warm clothes.
It was the third day of his trip with friend, Garrett Hagen. They had just bagged a 700-pound grizzly bear. The two men and the bear didn't fit in the 7-foot skiff they had taken down the river, so Adrian stayed behind while Garrett took the bear and the boat. He was only supposed to be gone an hour or two. He never returned. Garrett drowned. Adrian was alone.
After seven days trapped on a grassy knoll between the river and an impenetrable mountain, Adrian found himself sleep-deprived, hallucinating and slipping into hypothermia. Despairing of any hope to be rescued, Adrian said a prayer, carved a message in the butt of his rifle and closed his eyes, waiting to die.
Then he heard the sound - helicopter blades beating against the wind. "It was probably the most wonderful sound I have ever heard," he said. Fifteen minutes later, he was rescued.
When we hear stories like that of Adrian Knopp, we can only imagine the exhilaration he felt when he realized he was being rescued. We can only imagine the relief of hearing those helicopter blades.
We are all born stranded in a wilderness of sin, helpless and hopeless. If you doubt that, just look at the bad and hurtful things you have done and keep doing in your life. No matter how hard we try, we keep messing up. On our own, we are lost and condemned to an eternity in fiery inferno of hell.
But that is what the Christmas season is all about. At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that God came to rescue us. But God didn't come in a helicopter or fire truck or a Coast Guard vessel. He came in the form of a tiny baby. He came to take our place. He came to live and die as our substitute. God was born as a human being to suffer our punishment in our place.
That same little mouth that cried out in hunger from the manger, cried out in pain from the cross. Those tiny feet and hands would one day be nailed to wood for you. Jesus was born in Bethlehem to die on Calvary.
But because he did, you have been rescued from hell and given a home in heaven.
When you see that baby lying in a manger - when you hear him cry - that is the sound of helicopter blades beating against the wind. That is the sound of being rescued. That is the most wonderful sound we could ever hear.
Andrew Schroer is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Edna.