Monday, December 25, 2006

The Risk of Chrismas

Christmas Day – Year C
Isaiah 9:2-4,6-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14(15-20)
Monday, December 25, 2006 – St. Alban’s, Westwood

The angel of the Lord proclaimed, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.”

Bringing a child into the world is an awesome responsibility and an awesome privilege. First time parents haven’t a clue as to what to do with a newborn baby – how to care for it, how to raise it. It’s a scary experience, at best. Mary and Joseph would have been no exception. Yet, God places a great deal of confidence in Mary and Joseph by entrusting them with God’s Son. What was God thinking, giving his son into the care of these two novices? And I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt, knowing that they were bringing not just any baby into the world, that they were not going to be raising just any child. Not only did they have the great responsibility of raising a child – no small feat in itself – they were responsible for the welfare of the Messiah, the Son of God They had been given the responsibility of raising he who was to be the hope and salvation for all humanity.

Even though they had both been filled in on what would happen – Mary by the Archangel Gabriel and Joseph in a dream – there was no way they could have really known what they were getting themselves into. There is no way they could have really known what it all meant. It had to be an overwhelming experience for them. They had taken a big risk in accepting God’s call to be the earthly parents of the Son of God.

It wasn’t only Mary and Joseph who risked. The baby Jesus is God Incarnate, God made flesh, God in human form. And God didn’t just become human. He came in the form of a baby – a few pounds of helpless flesh, totally reliant upon Mary and Joseph. The Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, came as a baby, unable to care for even the most basic of human needs. God took a big risk in becoming human. God took a big risk in allowing himself to be put in the hands of inexperienced human parents, in the hands of an inexperienced mother who was nearly a child herself. In so doing, God made himself vulnerable. But under God’s plan for the salvation of humankind, this was necessary. God needed to become a child, God needed to grow into adulthood, complete with all the experiences that process entails – all the joy, all the trials, all the pain that that process brings. God needed to experience firsthand what it meant to be human, so that he could ultimately save humanity. In doing so, God took a big risk. In so doing, God made himself vulnerable for our sake.

And God took another risk in the process. God put a lot of confidence in the human race – that it would be able to accept God’s son as the Messiah, as the redeemer of the world. God, being who God is, undoubtedly knew that not all people would accept Jesus. Some would be shaken by the words and deeds of Jesus – to the point that they would seek to have him executed. But at the same time, these people were necessary to help bring about the fulfillment of what Jesus was called to do – what he was brought into the world to do. God trusted that some would play their part to condemn and execute Jesus – so that he could ultimately be resurrected; and that others would carry on the vision of what Jesus stood for. God risked by trusting that humanity would do its part – that we would embrace his Son, that we would see for ourselves that we are loved by our God.

But all this risk was necessary. It was necessary for our sake. God loves us so much that He was willing to do whatever it took to get our attention, to risk whatever he had to, to demonstrate his love for us. By becoming human, God sought relationship with us. We had not done a good job of relating to an omnipotent, omniscient God. We needed something more tangible to relate to. So God become one of us so that we could better relate to God. In becoming human, God reached out to us.

And now it is our turn to risk. God has reached out to us. The Christ Child born this day in Bethlehem is not just Mary and Joseph’s baby. He is not just God’s Son. He is the child given for all of us. He is our hope and our salvation. He is a tangible sign of God’s love for us, of God’s desire to be in relationship with us, and for us to be in relationship with him. Mary may have given birth to Jesus, but we are to risk by sharing in the raising of Christ, to make his love known to all humanity – by proclaiming along with the angel of the Lord, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you – to every one of you – is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.”

Merry Christmas!

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