Christmas Eve 2017 - The Rev. Sarah Quinney
We use a program called Godly Play for our children’s ministry. In it, they call Christmas the story of the wonderful impossible saying,
“This story is like a parable, but it is bigger than a parable. It is the biggest parable of all, the wonderful impossible. It shows the Incarnation, how God became a baby.”
The wonderful impossible.
We here have scientifically minded brains and we learn in school that certain things are impossible. Like, I can’t make myself invisible at least in the literal sense. I can’t grow wings and fly and I can’t walk on water. We can’t raise people from the dead. We can’t turn water into wine. We eventually learn that a virgin birth is impossible.
And they are impossible, impossible for us. Imagine for a minute the impossibility of the creation of this planet and the existence of life on it. Obviously, none of us are capable of making a planet but something did. Something before everything existed. There was some force of energy that started this in motion. That action, that energy is God. And God is able to do the wonderful impossible.
We are here today for many reasons. Some of us are here to see our children and grandchildren in the pageant. Some of us are here to be present with your family on Christmas. Others are here because this is their church home and its Christmas. Some maybe here for the first time. Some may have felt dragged here or feel hesitant to be here. Some are very excited to be here. But for whatever reason we are here together and it is a wonderful sight.
The Church is open today and has services today for a reason as well. The reason is that God, that energy, that action that started all of this, joined the human family and became a baby. This all powerful, omnipotent being broke through our atmosphere and stepped onto earth. The Church is here today because we are celebrating this act of mercy and love.
An action of God that was since the beginning of time. See God doesn’t function under our constraints of time and space. We recognize this Christmas Day as the time when the human family experienced this love entering our atmosphere but it has always been. Jesus, the Word of God, The Word made flesh has always been with God and always been a part of God and a part of creation.
I find this best visualized by looking at science. Science tells us light travels at a large but finite speed, it takes time for light to cover large distances. Thus, when we see the light of very distant objects in the universe, like stars, we are actually seeing light emitted from them a long time ago: we see them literally as they were in the distant past. So, the light we see now in the sky existed nearly 200,000 years ago but we witness it today.
So, Jesus, the Word, the light of hope and love that came into the world to dispel darkness, existed before the time we experienced the birth of Christ, existed since the beginning of time.
Why am I even talking about this? Because it is easy for us to think that God somehow got creation wrong in the beginning, and realized it and came in the person of Jesus to fix his mistake. The world is reconciled with God through Jesus’ life but this reconciling action always was. It is in the coding and design of creation.
God always, before the beginning of time and creation, desired to love us and be with us. We are here to celebrate that we have this loving creator. That this creator seeks to be with us and care for us.
The greatest present for all of humanity and creation and the greatest present for you and me is that God became a baby 2000 years ago. The greatest present that you will open this day is that God chose to be present with us and still is. And this means that God is with you now and will be with you forever, in this time on earth and into your life eternal.
God has given us the greatest gift of all and that is Godself in the person of Jesus. God longs for us to make space in our lives for a relationship, a friendship, a partnership with Jesus. Relationships are not one sided, both parties have to make room for the other and accept the other into their life and trust in their love, trust in their care for you and have faith in all this.
The gift is here for us to open. But we actually have to open it and keep it and nurture and care for it.
Don’t be afraid to open this gift. Relationships are sometimes frightening to enter into and are never easy, experience tells us that, but this relationship is so worth it.
Let God in, you don’t have to do it all on your own. You were not designed to be alone. You were not designed to care for everyone and yourself on your own. You were not designed to be able to control every circumstance in this world.
God designed us, knowing that we would need help. Help from one another and help from God. That is why at the beginning of creation God set in motion this gift of Jesus. Jesus who will heal you, Jesus who will shoulder your burdens, but only if you let him and give them to him.
I want to share something I read on a blog recently,
“God is not someone we will ever grasp on this side of heaven; nor were we ever intended to. We are meant to view God in Holy awe with understanding that God is much greater and bigger and wiser and perfect than we will be able to fathom and that is a good, good thing.
I also believe that we push the snooze button on truly following God, because we are scared of what it will look like. We are afraid that if we say yes, God is going to send us somewhere completely different than we anticipated. Which also means, by the way, that we think we are the best determinant of what our life should look like. Spoiler alert: while God might send you somewhere completely different than you planned, God’s plans for you are infinitely better than your perfectly laid out best. When we push snooze to the adventure God desires to take us on, we are choosing the comfortable over the eternally significant.
What sounds more boring, micromanaging your life to the extent that you basically know what’s coming up next; or depending on God to the extent that God has to light each and every step as it comes up?
How can the Light shine in the darkness if you are constantly running away from the dark?
How can you truly know and trust God if you are showing up with your own, manmade flashlight everywhere you go?”
When we try so desperately to control our lives and the people in it, we are not giving God any space to move, guide and help us. We have to let go of control and let God do the work, let God take action for us. What if Mary had said to the angel, “No, I don’t want to do what you are asking me to do?”
Give God the space and the permission to take action in your life. Let God do the work. You don’t have to do it on your own. You aren’t meant to do it on your own. This Christmas, open this gift from God.