Christmas reminds us that we like God are human too.
This sermon also appears in the Huffington Post.
I have a friend who doesn’t do church and doesn’t particularly do God, but she drove 45 minutes to listen to our parishioners sing Christmas carols (and drink beer) at the Irish Pub next door to my church.
“So, why come to this?” I asked.
“Because I like those songs.”
“Those songs—Christmas Carols?”
Christmas is like that…
Christmas Eve is no different. I’m always curious as to who will be here. And, I always wonder how it is that all of us came to be sitting here. Here in our drafty,
candlelit sanctuary. Some of us come every year. Some come every year and have traveled a considerable distance to do so. Some of us have come because we were at a party and we got dragged along, others of us are here to avoid a family Christmas fight. For some, maybe, this place is open, inviting and warmer than outside. Then some of us are people who were just literally passing by and on a whim, in search of something or someone slipped in casually right after we finish singing Come All Ye Faithful.
Because, Christmas is like that. People walk through our doors who wouldn’t normally. Christmas is one of those times, in the midst of the early darkness and late sunrises, when we get a bit reflective. It’s this time, when there is more dark than day, when we remember all over again the hole in our collective hearts. This year that hole has gotten, deeper, dimmer, and darker. We do not have to look far to see the crumpled bodies of Eric Gardner and Mike Brown. Or travel far to hear torture justified. Or wait long for another Sandy Hook . Frosty may be a jolly, happy soul, but his old top hat and button nose, do little to lift our collective woes. Loved ones ailing, fraught relationships, professional disappointments: a sad unrest settles in. Our wounds are palpable. Christmas.
“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Christmas is…a wailing infant, wrapped in rags. If any one of us saw him, vulnerable and exposed, who of us regardless of how inept we are and overburdened we may be, who among us would not reach down, pick him up and care for him? All of us would protect him, hold him and keep the little one safe. Because that is what humans do. We see someone in need and we help. God knows this and the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, calls us to this truth over and over again each year We are the human beings we long to be: Seeing, holding, caring, leading, you and I, each and every one of us.
Christmas reminds us that God knows this core truth about us even when we have lost that essential knowledge of ourselves. Christmas reminds us of what we know how to do. Christmas reminds us, even when we are so far gone, that we have forgotten how to cry. God knows. God has not forgotten. Christmas is that night. And on that night, on this night as God is made known to us, our true selves are revealed. As God trusts us to care in a way that we might not yet trust ourselves to do. Yet God who knows us, trusts us and risks for us.
“And this will be the sign for you, you will find the child wrapped in bands of cloth lying in the manger.”
We, whose hearts have holes, we who have found ourselves feeling underwhelmed, and over burdened, it is we to whom God trusts and turns. Though we find ourselves struggling and giving up, God will have none of that. Saying to us, in the birth of that child, “Carry on, go forth, care for me, and for all that there is.”
“So the Shepherds went with haste and they found Mary, Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. They made known what had been told them about the child and all who heard it were amazed.”
We, with an infant, crying and calling us, we cannot leave that little one alone. We, must act now, to care now and move forward; seeing, finding and taking hold of all that is Holy in the world, eventually filling that dim dark hole.
As we leave church tonight, it will still be dark and cold. But the next day, the sun will come up earlier, than it did today. A hope born this night will show itself in that early sun that rises tomorrow. Calling us to be again, who we long to be, the humans who we are so that this our world will become a place, of wholeness and holiness.
“And there was with the angels a multitude of heavenly hosts, saying, “Glory to God in the Highest heaven and on earth, peace and good will…”
Come all ye faithful. All ye humans. Let us adore him.
Bonnie A. Perry