God Among us…Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Sermon at Midnight Mass  AUDIO

The Word became Flesh, and dwelt among us.

Word becomes flesh  Abstract to reality

Familiar words – moving, poetical, dramatic…

What does it mean? This Christmas recitation,  this reading?

Word…   Logos,  -the essence of something.  The meaning, the Word that brings life,

In other words, God, the source of the universe,

Becomes flesh,  reality, humanity.

And why?

I wonder if when someone you love very much is hurting, or sad, or in pain you have ever thought or said “ I wish I could feel  this with you, or instead, I wish I could really understand how you feel, what you are experiencing”

I know I have, and this is the very essence of what happened at Christmas,

God becomes human,

To show us how much, how very much we are loved,

By living our broken human life along side it, not to fix it or mend it, but to walk with us through it,

The word became Flesh and dwelt among us

Literally the sense of that is “and pitched tents with us”

Lived right in the middle of it all.. the reality

That phrase brings to mind for me a crowded refugee camp, makeshift and heaving. Tents fashioned of anything around, life buzzing and suffering and being lived, and it is into this reality that the son of God is born.

God’s life on earth began in fragility and shame. It began precariously, as ours do, it began in the reality of life

He didn’t come as anything special,   no fanfare, no special treatment.

Right from the beginning God among us allies himself with the marginalised and those whom society has little time for.

Right from the start God among us is revolutionary  and risky

He was born to a young unmarrried girl,  for whom, along with her partner who stood by her,  this acceptance of God, of carrying God would have been  life endangering.

To be pregnant and unmarried carried the risk of at best being shunned by your family, at worst being killed by them.

When Mary & Joseph travelled to Bethlehem they went because it was a family town, they would have had family there, and yet, there is nowhere for them to stay,  not in the main houses at least. Family honour meant that no one would give shelter to  a couple who were bringing disgrace on their name…

And so, they had a bed with the animals, out the back, or underneath. Shuffled round there in the dark so the neighbours wouldn’t see..

God’s life among us began hidden, and shameful.

It began poor, and dirty,   no maternity unit or  warm dry bedding,  no hot water or towels, no aromatherapy oils or gas & air.

God was born, messily, noisily and dangerously.

Just like every other baby born ,

Fragile and dependent.  Born to a  scared tired teenager   &  her partner, who in other circumstances would have been well out of the way until it was all over…

When God chose to come to us, to pitch his tent with ours and to show us how much he loves us,  he really did it,

Because God among us was an experience of reality, of real human life.

Not some santitised Disney esque Christmas scene, but real  Life

God among us was utterly real, utterly revolutionary, utterly radical –

Just consider…

The Angel came  straight to Mary, to tell her she was chosen to bring  God to our world.

We miss how radical this was, a woman,  a young girl..

Gabriel didn’t pop to see her father first, or even check it out with Joseph.

God among us breaks down the prejudices and the discrimination – He allies himself with the powerless.

He shows that the women, and the poor and those with no voice are just as important as those with power and influence.

God among us begins to show us a different revolutionary way of living, Old, young, Men, women, rich poor, He comes to show ALL of us that we are loved, equally.

He came in all the human poverty and fragility you can imagine, he experienced the life of the displaced refugee, the asylum seeker, the despised and rejected

His scandalous beginnings hung over him even into adult hood, the whispers about his mother, his parentage, we read hints still in the Gospels.

He came to live in our broken hurting world,

To walk along side humanity in our lives with their joys and their sorrows, their celebrations and mourning.

When we look at our world, at the suffering,   when we try to understand why 20 families in Newtown have a physically small, but infinitely huge space in their midst this Christmas, we have no answers. We cannot begin to formulate a response.

But the message of Christmas, of this tiny fragile baby in the animals feed trough is that God,  God himself has come among us.

God loves us in our pain, and in our joy and while we walk this earth he walks it with us, because he came and lived this human life, and brought heaven to us and us closer to heaven. He comes to teach us a new way of living and being.

He doesn’t to bring instant fixes and to mend it, not yet, that promise will come,

But to share our lives, to show us love and to walk with us until the time when all things are made new, and whole.

We hold tears and joy together in tension, perhaps no more obviously than at Christmas, Light and shade  always go together, but because of God among us,  Jesus, the baby in the manger, we have the light of all the world to walk with us through  it all.

And that is our reason  to celebrate


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