You know how it is when you hear a song for the first time and it just clicks with you. It touches your soul. Each time you hear it, it brings a certain emotion to forefront of your brain. Sometimes, it is so powerful that you can remember where you were when you first heard it. Sometimes it may be a big event, like a wedding or a Christmas Eve service. But sometimes it is during the quiet times in a small event. I remember the first time I heard The Atheist Christmas Carol. I was on the computer scrolling through Facebook. NOT a major life event. But it caught my attention and I listened to it again and again.
And it brought me out from whatever void I was in, it brought me to the present moment to listen to it. Although its title is what originally attracted me I think it is a bit of a misnomer. I think there is divinity throughout the song. In this season celebrating the birth of Jesus, let us look at the birth of a child, any child, and see it for what it is and what it represents. We take it for granted, but childbirth, is a miraculous event, just as miraculous as a nebula birthing a star. Let us never lose the wonder of the sacredness of childbirth. Even for those of us who cant have or choose not to have biological children. Children are still miracles.
I remember with wonder the days my children came off a plane from Korea. For with the birth of a life, if we have love in our hearts, we cannot help but have that life imprinted upon our souls. We see within birth, the innocence that doesn’t know deceit, that doesn’t hide its emotions. In a childs eyes we see trust, because they know they cannot do everything for themselves and they know instinctively they need to trust us to help them. And that teaches us to be trustworthy. And they remind us that we have so much to learn as they learn something new each moment of each day.
That is what this evening is to remind us of. That despite the challenges we face each moment, each day, every day, we need to be reminded of our innocence lost, but still within us, of our need to trust others and to be trustworthy, and of our ability to learn and to grow. And of our need to share these messages with others and help them do the same. In Mark’s version of Jesus’ birth narrative, facing persecution from King Herod the family flees to Egypt. Egypt, a place that for Hebrews was the symbol of bondage. Out of the frying pan into the fire so to speak.
There are many things we will do to protect our family. To make ourselves feel safe. But by trying to feel safe, we lose our innocence, we lose our ability to trust and grow. There is a time to be safe, but there is also a time to take risks and come home out of exile and be welcomed home. In Luke’s version of the birth narrative, the family is away from home due to a census. The family was staying well maybe not in the best manger in town. And the shepherds come to give them news of joy and hope. A kind word, and one can imagine maybe even offering them some hospitality.. And then these shepherds returned, sharing that hope and joy with others.
For a family far from home, alone, knowing no one, with a young child, this act of the shepherds can seem like a miracle. Has anything like that ever happened to you? When a stranger helps you out just as you need it. It has to me, and it seemed like a miracle. Jesus asks “Is there anyone among you who, if a child asks for bread, will give a stone?” Jesus clearly never had to deal with the child asking for a $700 Playstation4 game system. Let alone whether to get an Xbox1 vs. a Playstation 4 and how we are made to feel like we are giving a stone if we give any less. That is a reminder of the loss of simplicity in our lives. Let the point be that we should let this day be a reminder that we should treat everyone we encounter in the same way we would treat an innocent child. Jesus message was as well also for us to be humble like a child. To raise ourselves above the noise of day to day life, and not impede ourselves from learning from trusting, and loving each other. Let this season be a season of Grace to remind us to offer that help to others, to remember to be our best selves, a reminder that we can be that way every day, and to treat each day with wonder, and innocence, and an openness to life and all it has to offer. We all have scars and wounds of the heart, all of us, but remember that you are not alone. That you are loved. That it is the season of Grace. This day and every day. May we make it so.