Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Are they really going to let us take him home?"


 Appointed readings 
On this 5th day of Christmas, we continue to celebrate the Incarnation — that God chose to enter into history, fully human and fully divine. As the Gospel of John eloquently states, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

As I marvel at the Incarnation, I am reminded of the birth of my first child. I remember the terror, the pain, and the joy of birth…and then going home from the hospital. As we dressed our baby and prepared to leave the hospital that day, Ed and I looked at one another and said: “Are they really going to let us take him home?!”

We didn’t know what we were doing! Yes, we had gone to the prenatal classes and read some books, but we didn’t know what we were doing! We had no experience! We couldn’t believe they were sending us home with a newborn baby.

It amuses me now to think about this because our concern was so short-sighted. Our concern was that we were not sure of how to care for a newborn. Looking back, our concern should have been on how completely our lives would be changed by this baby.

This new baby entering into our lives changed everything! It changed how we slept, ate, cleaned, played, and worked. It changed how we spent our money and our time. Even our thoughts about our future were different…because he was now with us.

The same is true with the Christ child. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Mary’s newborn baby who slept, ate, cried, and needed those swaddling cloths changed — he was just as real as the babies born this morning.

He was like us in every way, except without sin. Fully human and fully divine, Jesus was born to save us all: to save us from being separated from God; born to give us eternal life.

He came and lived among us — “pitched his tent” it says in the Greek. He entered into history. Not generic history but a particular history: during the time of the Roman Empire, into (what it might be referred to today as) a blue-collar family. Joseph was a carpenter, a day laborer. And Jesus lived a life. Not generic life, but a particular life — marked by the Hebrew Scriptures and tradition, shaped by prayer, directed by divine values and sacred choices, and lived in community. And he was loved by his parents, Mary and Joseph, who were among the first to have their lives changed by this history-altering infant.
As we continue to marvel at the Incarnation, let’s re-visit that panic-inspired question that Ed and I asked each other at the hospital: “Are they really going to let us take him home?”

Well, are you ready? To take Jesus home with you? Are you ready for the Christ-child to enter into your life? Because here’s what you need to know: everything will change!

He will take you on a holy adventure; will introduce you to his friends: those who are sick, suffering, poor and oppressed. And they will become your friends. He will put you on a mission to seek out the lonely, the lost, and the excluded. They, too, will be your friends. And you will encourage one another with the good news.

He will show you divine values engaged in real life situations that will lead to outcomes that will surprise, perplex, delight, and devastate you…but will lead to a deeper, richer, Easter life.

This baby Jesus will change the way you eat, sleep, clean, play and work. For, his Incarnation will prompt you to ask questions about how we live. Will prompt you to ask what are the true costs to your neighbor, to you, to Creation and to God in the ways that our society is living. Jesus will change the way you spend your money and your time. Because in his presence, personal fantasies of individual glory and kingdom-building dissolve. And are replaced with the broader, liberating, and life-giving vision of God’s glory and God’s kingdom.

So, you need to be ready for all of that. Or, you can, like so many of us, simply let love lead you. The love of God, that inspired and created Christmas for the good of all Creation, is the same love that is made known through the life-changing Christ-child.

And it is to that love (and that life) that Mary and Joseph said “yes.” We celebrate their “yes.” And now the question is: Will you say "yes" and bring this baby home with you? May God grant you the grace and courage to say "yes." For, it is through this Christ-child that we become children of God.

You are invited to join us at  Trinity Episcopal Church, The Woodlands.