During these twelve days of Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Messiah. Messiah, is a word the ancient Hebrews used to describe the anointed one. The one whom God would send to change the world. In Greek the word for Messiah is Christ.
Just holding a newborn in your arms and before long you’ll find yourself pondering the mysteries of this life. Who are we and where do we come from? Why are we here? What does it all mean? These are all perfectly wonderful questions and speculating upon the many possible answers to those questions is a fascinating process. But in the end, our words will always fail us when it comes to answers. As we are speculating about the birth of this beautiful little baby, the baby is alive and among us, and needs to be fed and changed, nurtured, guided and protected.
Our speculations about the mysteries of creation are a little like our preparations for Christmas. All the preparations, the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping, the stuffing, the cooking, and the worrying, and in the end all our preparations aren’t really the point. The point is Christmas-tide is now and the guests are all around. We’ve arrived and the Messiah has arrived, or not, its up to us to welcome the One who is Love in our midst, to celebrate Christmas.
The trouble is that sometimes, we are so preoccupied with the preparations, with the idea of getting it right that we forget the whole point of Christmas is the celebration itself; the gathering of the clans, the being with one another, the opportunity to be present to one another.
In those familiar tales we hear a story of a couple of parents who were not at all prepared to welcome a child into the world. It’s an earthy story that brings the pungent aroma of animal dung right into our carefully decorated living-rooms. And the Messiah that we greet in the story found in Matthew has no halo hovering over his head. The writer of Matthew makes it very clear that the Messiah comes from a very dubious pedigree, numbering a prostitute, a product of incest, an adulteress and sexual trickster among his ancestors. The Messiah’s parents were an unwed teenage girl and an unspeaking father, who wasn’t a father, and the pair of them appear to be homeless and then on the run, seeking shelter wherever they can find it.
As you celebrate Christmas this year, remember that the Messiah lives among you.
- If you are waiting for perfection, Christmas is going to be a lonely and frustrating time.
- If you are waiting for some future time, the wonders of this moment will pass you by.
- If you are expecting salvation outside yourself, you might miss your own wisdom.
- If you hold your loved ones to impossible standards you just might miss the Messiah who sits right next to you.
I know that you’ve worked hard, and made all kinds of preparations, but today is the day it’s time to greet the Messiah. Now. Don’t miss a moment of it. Enjoy. The Messiah arrives in you and right next to you! Enjoy!
“If God is the source of life, as I believe God is, then… God is present in you, and me, and in the whole created order. And if God is the source of life, then the only way you worship God is by living. Living fully. Sharing life, giving life away, not being afraid, wandering out of the certain into the uncertain, out of known into the unknown.
“If God is the source of love, as I believe God is, then the only way you can worship God is by loving. Not by being right, but by loving. By loving wastefully. The image in my mind is an old sink in the basement, that you plug up the drains and you turn on all the [taps] and the water overflows the boundaries and goes all over the floor and fills up every crack and cranny… and never stops to ask whether that crack deserves this living water… You love because love is what you have to do, not because somebody deserves the love. You love wastefully.
“If God is the ground of being, as I believe God is, then the only way you and I can worship God is by having the courage to be all that we can be, in the infinite variety of our humanity. Whether we are male or female, gay or straight, transgender or bisexual, white or black or yellow or brown, left-handed or right-handed, brilliant or not quite so brilliant, able or disabled or mentally challenged… No matter what the human difference is, you have something to offer in your own being.
“Nobody else can offer what you have to offer, and the only way you can worship God is by daring to be all that you can be, and not be bound by the fears of yesterday.”
Dear friends, my message this morning is for us to Live fully, love wastefully, be all you can be and celebrate who you are. Don’t miss a moment of it. Enjoy. The Messiah arrives in you and right next to you! Enjoy!
Acknowledgement: Materials taken from John Shelby Spong ‘Jesus for the non-religious’.