Christmas Eve December 24 10:30 p.m. 2019

The Rev. Janet Campbell

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christmas Eve

Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:1-20

 

Christ Episcopal Church

Tacoma, Washington

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Rev. Janet Campbell

 

 

In the darkness of the expectant night

God came into the world:

 

Infinity become

finite,

 

Eternity narrowed

to a moment,

 

The uncreated Creator

become one created, very small . . .

 

The Mother-Father of all humanity

now humanity’s child.

 

 

Majesty, power,

glory, immortality

arriving

in

lowliness, weakness,

humility . . .

and subject to death.

 

 

The giver of all that is,

now given . . .

 

The One for whom a thousand names

are not enough,

now known by one alone:

Jesus.

 

In an infant, in an instant,

divinity becomes human

(yet still Divine . . .)

 

 

Why?

 

That God might know

from a human point of view

the world God has made,

 

see with eyes the starry sky,

hear with ears springtime birdsong,

smell with nose bread warm from oven,

taste with tongue rich red wine,

feel on skin warm summer rains,

love’s gentle touch,

nails’ piercing pains . . .

 

 

Why?

 

That, loving us,

God might experience

as we experience,

the life God has given,

 

the limitations

and the possibilities

of human be-ing:

 

The movement of time,

memory of moments and people past,

anticipation of the unknown future,

companionship and aloneness,

sorrow and rejoicing,

hope and disappointment,

suffering and delight,

laughing, crying, living, dying . . .

 

 

Why?

 

that God, loving us,

might know

the only thing we know

that God did not yet know . . .

 

enfleshment . . .

 

Incarnation.

 

 

 

The gospel writer Luke imagines,

in his story of the birth,

the very down-to-earth-ness

of God’s coming . . .

 

to working-class parents

far from home,

strangers seeking lodging

in an overcrowded town,

in a small occupied land

under the cruel rule

of the Roman empire.

 

In a particular place,

In a particular time . . .

 

In the particular reality

of that place and time . . .

 

In a stable,

among the animals,

with birth pangs,

and the flow of water and blood,

 

in the hay,

God lay in a feeding trough . . .

 

a red and wrinkled newborn,

wailing thinly in the night.

 

The one by whose providence

all life is sustained,

hungry for the milk

of mother’s breast.

 

Few knew of the birth . . .

 

some rumpled shepherds

startled into action

by a heavenly disturbance,

 

perhaps some townsfolk

attracted by a small commotion

around the birth-stable . . .

 

None knew its true

significance,

 

although Mary and Joseph

pondered remembered words

of angels  . . .

 

 

All the same,

the birth was momentous.

 

It was an invasion . . .

 

a divine invasion

of love,

of mercy,

of grace . . .

 

shining into a

dark and sorry world:

 

 

the beginning

of the beginning

of God’s reign of justice and peace . . .

 

and the beginning

of the end

of worldly empires of injustice and cruelty.

 

 

The seed sown in Mary’s womb,

the infant nurtured at her breast,

the child working with Joseph

learning a carpenter’s trade,

 

“grew and became strong,

filled with wisdom,” says Luke,

“and the favor of God was upon him.”

[Luke 2:40]

 

The favor of God,

a divine urgency growing within  . . .

 

stirring to life in him

a burning love of God’s people,

his people,

a burning desire for God’s kingdom,

his kingdom.

 

Three years he preached it,

taught it, enacted it,

loving and healing the lost and lonely,

the ostracized, wounded,

the poor, sick, hungry . . .

 

Three years of loving, liberating

words and actions

that challenged

the faithlessness and cowardice

of arrogant political and religious leaders

 

whose principal concern

was not their people,

but placating their Roman overseers.

 

It was a politically dangerous desire,

this burning desire of Jesus,

ending in his capture, torture, death

and burial.

 

But Love

cannot die forever.

 

God’s Christ rose

from the grave,

 

and God’s Incarnation,

once limited in time and space

to one man in first century Palestine,

 

ever after spreads

down the ages and across the world

in

the members of Christ’s risen Body,

his church . . .

 

 

entrusted with his kingdom mission

in every time and place . . .

 

in the particular realities

of those times and places . . .

 

For us, in this time and place . . .

 

in this sorrowing world

of anger, violence, pain, grief,

 

in the anguish of Creation,

gravely wounded.

 

 

God is ever being born into the world . . .

 

In the darkness of this expectant night,

in the new light of tomorrow’s morning,

and every day and every night,

born

in aloneness and in companionship,

in human yearning and hope,

in prayer,

in play,

at school,

at work,

in joy and sorrow,

in life and in death.

 

 

In the faith community gathered

for worship,

in the Word proclaimed,

songs sung, prayer prayed, music played,

the splashing water of baptism,

the Bread and Wine consecrated and shared.

 

God,

who once lay as infant

in feeding trough,

 

now food

for the life of the world.

 

In bread broken

cup poured out,

Christ’s very life is given

to live in us,

to be born, borne (carried)

by us

into the world.

 

Why?

 

That we might,

with Jesus’ great love,

do the work of Christmas.

 

 

That we might

with Jesus’ burning desire,

seek, love, and heal

the lost and lonely,

the cast-aside and overlooked,

the neglected and wounded,

the poor, sick, homeless and hungry,

 

That we might

with Jesus’ fierce courage,

stand in solidarity

with the powerless and vulnerable,

the ostracized and oppressed,

over against

the unjust powers and empires

of this world.

 

 

In the darkness of one expectant night

in a faraway place

in a long-ago time,

God came uniquely into the world

in the holy child Jesus.

 

In an infant, in an instant,

divinity became human

(yet still Divine . . .)

 

 

Why?

 

That we, fully human,

might be one with the Divine.

 

Tonight,

Infinity

Eternity

is uniquely born anew

in each of us,

in every Christian

celebrating the holy birth . . .

 

as Incarnation

spreads its way

across the yearning earth.

 

 

 

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