ADVENT THREE SERMON on Matthew 1:18-25
DECEMBER 19, 2010
To shattered wedding plans,
New dreams are born.
To a confused Joseph,
fearful yet righteous
Comes to us -
shatters the image we have
peaceful baby, golden halo glow
smiling parents, angels, cows
in some barn, dry and warm
with a drummer boy drumming.
In quickening contractions
Birth is not peaceful.
Not calm nor pleasant.
Young Mary, no pain meds,
No spinal block,
No sterile anything
No nurses. No midwife mentioned.
No episiotomy to make more room
pushing, sweating, gritting teeth
Joseph doing something? Nothing?
Blood and cord and afterbirth
crying, clothed and hungry
sleeping in a feeding trough.
Baby Jesus born.
We want the Christmas card Jesus
The postage stamp Jesus
The shopping mall Jesus.
The easy peace.
The comfort of hymns and carols sung since birth
That never fail to put us in the mood
We want the mood of Christmas, the hymns playing on the radio Christmas. The hot chocolate Christmas.
The tinsel and wrapping paper Christmas.
The rush of the sale Christmas.
With Santa salt shakers and
colored light landing strips.
We want that Christmas.
But Emmanuel comes
Comes even to those who hunger today
And many do
Own but the clothes on their back
suffer their birth, scorn and poverty
suffer in silence a slap, kick or fist
suffer war suffer long suffer life.
Suffer for want of a roof, a meal, a job, a life, safety, hope.
To set the captives free
To preach good news to the poor
Yes the poor
To help and to heal
To sup with outcasts and sinners
Break bread with the broken and
Feed the hungry to put
New wine in new wineskins
declare the in-breaking Kingdom of God
to feed and keep feeding
until all have their fill
and there is more besides -
to discomfort the comfortable
and re-arrange the guest lists
Somewhere, somehow in the middle
of everything else
Emmanuel comes for the lost and the lonely,
the hurting and the homeless,
those with many questions and few answers,
for the pilgrim and the outcast,
for the saint and for the sinner.
For the young and old without preference
For these most especially
Which wrapping paper should not hide
Nor tinsel make pretty nor carols give false cheer
happiness instead of joy
peace as a full stomach and a tender song
instead of hope fulfilled and incarnation.
Comes in moments joyful bleak normal odd
real, too real, honest and pure
in the conversations, the long afternoon
the smile at a stranger, the patient ear
the kind nod, gracious words, forgiving heart
open hands, serving hands, gracious hands
generous hands, tender hands, loving hands.
Emmanuel comes and we must prepare!
Mistake after mistake until
An open heart, a centered life, a contrite spirit
A humble way, a borne cross, complete surrender.
Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel