Sermon for January 1, 2017 1st after Christmas “I’m Going To…”
I know that you have at one point or another waited for a baby to be born. Yours, your children’s, a friend or a relative. There is lots of preparation and expectation. And then in an instant there is a baby and your world is no longer the same and never will be again. A little baby, completely in your care, and all you can do is feel utter joy and love. It didn’t take much just a little baby.
And we think of the story about that other baby, 2000 years or so ago, that was born in a stable to a young and inexperienced mother without the help of a midwife, without a whole hospital on standby should something go wrong, without someone waiting on the other end of a mobile phone and praying that all would be well.
It doesn’t take much for God to materialize. What Christmas tells us is that God could materialize in a baby with no more than a card board box to sleep in, in a refugee camp, somewhere in Syria, because there is nowhere else for it to go.
What the Christmas story tells us is that all God needs is someone, anyone, who will be bread, who will be wine, who will be truth, who will be a shepherd, who will be peace, and bring healing and stand for wholeness. One person to carry the light. And, as Jesus, the person whose birth we celebrate, showed us, that one person is enough to change the world.
One baby is enough. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just flesh and bones like you and me, nothing shiny, no deep philosophy, just love incarnating on the ground is all that is needed, in the darkness, on the fringes.
It could be me, or you, or the person next door. It can be the little boy that was born two months ago here in Saint John (who played the part of Jesus Christmas Eve) and it can be one of the many refugee children that are desperately looking for shelter and food, traumatized, exhausted and dirty.
God, says Christmas, doesn’t need much to materialize, to become present, to make a difference, to find opportunities to bring love and compassion to life. A baby will do, a couple of shepherds, a young girl and her fiancée, some star gazers, an elderly couple, a priest, a housewife. Anybody that is prepared to look and see, is prepared to open themselves up and accept this amazing reality: That God coming to birth doesn’t need any special effects or show of power. On the contrary, that a bit of bread, a sip of wine, a smile, a bit of care, and love is enough for God to come and spend time with us. To spread a table and invite whoever’s heard the whispers of angel song in to share and take part. To embody that vulnerable love, that fragile sign of hope, live the life that was lived by Jesus Christ so he will continue to be born, time and again, continue to rise, continue to nurture and inspire, continue in humans like him, vulnerable, ordinary, day to day, nothing special, but exceedingly precious in God’s eyes.
Jesus wasn’t born once, he was born many a time over, and he continues to be born, becomes present in our midst, wherever in vulnerability and weakness God’s light begins to shine in the darkness and hope breaks through despair, and acts of peace start wiggling their way into places where destruction reigns. Wherever a smile breaks through the grimy face of someone who has lost everything, and the first cries of a baby are greeted with awe, and thanksgiving. Whether in a stable, in Syria or in a five star maternity ward here in Saint John, where people remember that this is how God seeks to be present with us, how God seeks to come to birth and start something new, is where the future begins….and God is always calling us: into today and into tomorrow. Amen.