Go, Look Among the People!
Christmas Day Sermon 2015
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church
Recently, Gav and I began to play a little Advent game together. A game of hide-and-go-find Jesus.
It has become something of a morning routine for us. I stumble down the stairs behind him as he rushes over to cut on the lights on the tree. I make my way into the kitchen to begin grinding the beans for coffee as he cuts on the rest of the lights. As he feeds the dog and the cat, I put the finishing touches on the coffee just in time for him to arrive at my feet with the little baby Jesus figurine. “You hide him,” he says, running away to push the down angel who in-tunes ‘Away in a Manger’ giving sequence to our exploration.
(sing) Away in a manager no crib for a bed…
It might amaze you to think it, but this morning was hard for Gav and our game. And, I can tell you, it had nothing to do with Santa, Gav still isn’t really clear about that. Today was hard for Gav because today I changed the game. Today, rather than hiding Jesus in kitchen or cupboard, rather than putting him in the drawers or under the blanket, I only placed him in the middle of the creche with Mary, Joseph, donkey and angels.
And so Gav would head out in search of baby Jesus…to the kitchen. (foump, boump, foump boump) Then to the toy area (foump, boump, boump, foump). Then to the cupboard (foump, boump, boump foump). “I can’t find him” he would say. “I don’t know,” I responded, “I’d keep looking.”
After a couple of minutes, when I could just begin to see the pre-breakfast, angst beginning to bubble, and certainly not wanting to inflict that upon our Christmas morn, I simply asked, “Did you look among the people?” ”No, I didn’t,” he responded. Only to run over to the creche with the foump, boump, foump boump sound of small feet to discover- ‘there he is!’
And with a thawpt to the head of the angel, the music sounded yet again. And his eyes he would close, waiting for me again…
(sing) The stars in the sky look down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
Did you look among the people? That is the question and the answer that Christmas Day gives us (when it comes to finding God in our world).
You see my friends, in a day and age that is often so flooded with fear-mongering and the retelling of violence and terror- even when it is not necessary- the message that Christ came among us and lived, or as the Greek suggests, “pitched his tent”, ought to be of great relief to us.
For it is by our claiming and reclaiming the message of God coming into the world as us, to live among us that (as the son of homeless, teenage, refugee from somewhere in Palestine that) we will rediscover how to live as people of peace on earth.
And isn’t a little peace what we are all searching for and still haven’t found in these days? For while it is a good and right and joyful thing always and every where to remind of ourselves of what happened, in those days or in the beginning (as John claims), it tis’ the season, my friends, in these days for God’s people to lift up their voices and sing aloud. For in the great evangelical wisdom of Buddy the Elf, “the fastest way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”
(sing) Bear near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me I pray…
Yes my friends, we need a good theology of the incarnation this year maybe more than ever. We as Christians need to talk about what it means that we believe all people are created in God’s image and yes, more than that, we need to put that belief to action in such a way that we keep on inviting one another and all their “friends” to become our best God-created selves.
For I’ve got news for you this morning: if we read John reasonably, we might just discover that we are the ones we have been waiting for. You and I, we (the Church of the Holy Innocents in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta) are the “fleshy-ness” of God in these days meant to bring justice, peace, and good will on earth.
After all, as John powerfully claims and Jesus confirms “to all who received him (that’d be us), he gave the power to become children of God.” In other words, Christmas reminds us that to be a people who embrace God’s way on earth, is to become a son or daughter of God. And to become a son of daughter of God, is to become a like Jesus: an unquenchable testimony to the light for all God’s creation.
The Rev. Martha Sterne has many brilliant sayings, but one that I loved the most when we were on staff together was one that she used on birthdays. Sheepishly, she would look at you, and turn her head to the side and say, “I’m glad you were born.” And the amzing thing about it, is that she could actually make you believe it.
My friends, we need that message today deeply. For to be glad in the other is to see the light they were meant to be.
Do me a favor: look at your neighbor…go on look, and say to them, “I am glad you were born.” Great, now look at them and say, “I see the light you were made to be.”
Merry Christmas. May you be born afresh in the world this day, and everyday, that those for whom Christmas never seems to come, may find in you that light which darkness can not overcome.
(sing) Bless all of the children in thy tender care, and fit us for [this world] to live with thee [here].