Christmas Day December 25, 2019

The Rev. Janet Campbell

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christmas Day

Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98:1-6; Hebrews 1:1-12; John 1:1-14

 

Christ Episcopal Church

Tacoma, Washington

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Rev. Janet B. Campbell

 

 

 

All during the Advent season

of waiting for Christ,

we have, of course, been hurrying

to be in time for Christmas . . .

 

as Mary and Joseph

hurried from Nazareth

to Bethlehem

to be in time for a tax census,

to outrace the coming

of their first child,

due at any moment.

 

God help them

if the child should come

somewhere along

the lonely and dangerous journey . . .

 

And so they hurried,

as fast as their little donkey

could travel.

 

 

The little town of Bethlehem

was overcrowded

with travelers

brought there by the census . . .

 

and as the birth pains came,

Mary and Joseph took shelter

in a stable behind an inn,

because all the rooms

were already taken.

 

There began

the hard work of the birth,

Mary on the straw-covered floor,

Joseph kneeling at her side

in encouragement.

 

There might have been

some women of the town helping

(the kindness of strangers),

or maybe Mary and Joseph were alone

among the inquisitive animals.

 

 

Last night we heard all about it,

in the Gospel written by Luke,

kind of a noisy Gospel,

full of excitement . . .

 

a multitude of angels

chorusing in the nighttime sky,

shepherds calling to one another

in fear and astonishment,

sheep baaing,

cattle lowing,

a donkey braying . . .

 

and in the inn across from the stable,

other tired travelers

unwinding from their journey

laughing and shouting for more food, more drink,

filling the night air

with their noise . . .

and then . . .

 

the thin, startled cry of a child

newly entered this world.

 

 

How do you tell a Mystery

with words?

 

 

This was the way

Luke imagined it,

how it must have been,

he thought . . .

this wondrous event

when God

came to earth

as a very real baby

wondrously and really born into the world,

in the lantern-light of a stable.

 

 

And now,

after all the excitement,

it’s the morning after.

 

Mary and Joseph,

having had not-very-much sleep at all,

wake in the hushed chill of dawn

to the hungry cries of their baby.

 

And as she nurses him,

just like any new parents

they drink in the beauty of this tiny face,

these perfect little hands and feet,

those tiny toes.

 

 

And Mary and Joseph

remember the bedlam of the night just past,

shepherds barging in,

the cold clinging to their ragged garments,

stumbling all over each other

in their eagerness to see the child,

blurting out a story

of angels who filled the starry night

with the wind of their wings

and with song,

startling the sheep

into a wooly canter . . .

 

And Mary and Joseph

remember their own startling angelic visitations

just nine months past,

announcing to Mary her unexpected pregnancy,

calming Joseph’s questions and fears.

 

And they look at one another

and wonder,

in the silence,

 

What child is this?

 

 

That’s our question, too, isn’t it,

on this morning after . . .

 

we who have come

from last night’s Christmas Eve revels

with too much Christmas food and drink

and too little sleep

to peer into a stable

on this

Christmas morning . . .

 

Just what does

this two-thousand-year-old story

of angels and shepherds and

a newborn baby

have to say to our

twenty-first century lives?

 

 

In the quiet of this

Christmas morning liturgy,

we hear its meaning

from the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews,

and the Gospel writer John.

 

 

“Long ago,”

says the author of Hebrews,

“God spoke to our ancestors

in many and various ways by the prophets,

but in these last days,

God has spoken to us by a Son . . .”

 

“In the beginning was the Word,”

says John,

“and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God . . .

 

“and the Word was made flesh,

and lived among us . . .

full of grace and truth.”

 

“In these last days,

God has spoken to us by a Son.”

 

We dwell this morning

in the quiet wonderment

of the Mystery of God’s Word made flesh.

 

The child born of Mary

is the living and active and powerful Word of God,

the Word which, in its very speaking,

makes happen

those things which are being told.

 

 

God said in the beginning,

“Let there be light . . .”

and it was so.

 

And God said

“Let there be life . . .”

and it was so.

 

From the story of the world’s creation,

we get the sense

of the Hebrew idea of

a word that is also an event, a happening.

 

And God said,

“Let there be Incarnation:

let me dwell among my children . . .

let me study their ways:

 

Let their tears and troubles be mine . . .

and let me understand what it means

to suffer as they do.”

 

And it was so.

 

This powerful Word,

who brings light and life

into being,

who came into the world

one long-ago Christmas morn

a squalling baby in a manger . . .

 

 

This is

the very Word who leaps forth today

from the pages of the Gospel book,

 

the very Word who comes to us today

in Bread and Wine, Body and Blood,

 

the very Word who already dwells in us

and among us,

 

the very Word that has been waiting

all Advent

to have a word with us

 

in the silence of this Christmas morning.

 

And that Word is Love.

 

 

God has spoken to us

by a Son

and what God has spoken

is Love.

 

 

We have had

many things to say ourselves,

we children of God,

since that gift

was first spoken in Christ –

 

 

Our words do not have the power

to bring worlds into being

 

but our words do have the power

to incite violence,

create division,

provoke cruelty,

nurture hatred,

 

the power

to mislead, hurt,

punish, alienate, oppress . . .

 

Love has been spoken to us,

and we have replied

with

careless words,

ruthless words,

loveless words.

 

 

And yet,

Love does not give up on us,

does not let go of us,

continues to speak to us,

pouring itself out

 

in

Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness, Healing.

 

God has spoken to us

by a Son

and what God has spoken

is Love.

 

This is the Mystery

promised from the beginning of creation,

The Mystery born into the world

twenty centuries ago in Bethlehem,

 

the Mystery

in which we live and move

and have our being

in the bedlam of this 21st Century.

 

 

Love is the child who wakes

in our hearts

this Christmas morn

hungry for us,

desiring to drink the milk of our love.

 

Love is the child

for whom we hunger

this Christmas morn,

who offers us his own life,

his body and blood

in the feast of his holy Christmas meal.

 

As we eat and drink

of Love

we become the love we receive.

 

 

The Mystery is this:

we are God’s powerful words

made flesh in the world . . .

 

words of hope, encouragement, kindness,

words of inclusion, unity, dignity, respect,

words of truth, and justice, and peace, and joy.

 

Over against hate speech,

we are God’s love speech.

 

Let us take, then, of Love,

and eat and be filled.

And let us drink of Love

and be satisfied.

 

And, beloved,

let us love one another

and the whole of God’s Creation

as God has loved us . . .

 

for God is Love.

 

 

 

website by Branded Look LLC   |   photos by Winfield Giddings