Christmas 2011

It is time. We have been staying awake, we have been preparing for the faithful one. Love bursts into our world and our lives. Love interrupts us. Love wins. Sing a new song, let the heavens and earth be glad! For the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. It is time to join our yes with Mary's yes. We can hardly contain our joy for this good news.


Incarnation. Inconceivable, incarnation. Unreasonable, inconceivable, incarnation. God with us, born in a barn, in the muck and the mess of the stable, to a young girl, not yet married to her betrothed, Joseph. The romance of the birth of this long awaited baby Jesus soon turns into the flight of his parents into Egypt, to escape the tyranny of the emperor. The stars in the heavens signaled his birth, showing the magi the way to find him, but they had to return to their home by another way, to protect the little one.


This birth means no more business as usual, signified by the events of that night and the circumstances of this birth. They were waiting for a King and all those kingly things, and here was a child born in a barn with shepherds in attendance. They were looking for the Messiah, the one who would rescue them, and they received a boy, who brought his father's message, Love one another, as you have been loved first. But this birth is not just about rehabilitation, it is about resurrection.


For us that means that even our lives, sometimes filled by regret and disappointment, sometimes colored by cynicism, sometimes fueled by revenge, are transformed by this birth. It means that God even comes into our deepest sadness and pain and bears it for us, so that we may begin again.


This is a scary proposition because we've invested a lot to keep our lives as they are, and it can be down right frightening to give up what we know. But that's what Advent has been all about, keep awake, prepare, be ready to give it all up to the love that is born in our hearts, our lives, our world. It is scary, and it's thrilling at the same time, because this promise speaks to a place deep down inside each of us that wants something more, something more than a better job or higher income, something more than a more comfortable home or enjoyable retirement. These things may all be good, but they don't satisfy for long. We desperately want a sense of meaning and purpose, we desire to believe that there is more to this life than meets the eye, we need to hold onto the hope that despite all appearances we are worthy of love. This birth is about that love, this birth shows us that Love wins, every time.


And so God comes into the muck and the mess that is this barn, and that is our lives, to speak quietly but firmly through the blood, sweat, and tears of the labor pains of a young mother, and cry of her infant that God is absolutely for us, joined to our ups and down, our hopes and fears, and committed to giving us not just more of the same, but something more. Christ comes, that is, not just to give us more of the life we know, but new and abundant life altogether. For in Christ we have the promise that God will not stop until each and all of us have been embraced and caught up in God's tremendous love and have heard the good news that "unto you this day is born a savior, Christ the Lord." No wonder we sing, "Let heaven and earth rejoice!"


This incarnation, this unreasonable, inconceivable, incarnation, this birth, is about this God who creates us, who loves us so very much, this God comes to be with us, delivered into our world 2000 years ago as a baby just like us, crashing into our world as the miracle of birth. This God comes to us as a still small voice that we may only be able to hear at the most desperate times in our lives, when we fall to our knees and give it all over. This God comes to us in the indescribable words of prayer. This God comes to us crying in the voice of those who continue to be hungry and thirsty. This God comes to us singing in the voice of the child. This God comes to us in the multitude of voices calling for reason as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This God comes to us in the unfamiliar voice of the immigrant, looking for a better way. This God comes to us in the howling voice of the wind and the rain, redrawing the landscape of our lives. This God comes to us in the voice of the one who cries, remember me, when you come into your kingdom. This God comes to us when all will be fulfilled at the end of time.


This is the God who loves you so very much, unreasonably so, not because of what you've done or not done, not because of who you are or what you're worth. Not because of anything, other than you are a wonderfully and fearfully created child. And it is this love that wins, it is this love that transforms your heart, and your mind and your soul. It is this love that grows in you, that gives you reason to live fully and completely alive. It is this love that doesn't judge whether you have enough, are enough, or even give enough. Indeed, it is this love that makes dead people alive.


Love wins, Alleluia, to us a child is born. Come let us adore him, Alleluia!

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