Sermon 12/24/2021

Date: Dec. 24, 2021 Christmas Eve
Reflection: Smuggled In?
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Tonight we celebrate God coming into the world through a human being. The word made flesh. Divine Love appearing in human form. Incarnation. Re-creation. A new beginning. And how does this happen? This pivotal moment? It does not involve the centers of power – government or religious. It does not happen in the capital. It does not take place among the powerful. Nor among the wealthy. We’re not told of the angel Gabriel going to the daughter of the high priest or the governor.

Tonight we celebrate a story of poor family forced to make a journey to avoid trouble with the government. Refugees almost. Away from home. A vulnerable pregnant woman and her husband with no place to stay. No room at the inn. Relegated to a barn among the beasts. Well, were they little more than beasts these expendables? And among the cattle, the doves, the donkeys, the sheep, the bats, the rats, and the cats, but probably not among pigs since pork was not on the Jewish menu, in the hay and the straw, the baby is born. Were they alone – Joseph having to serve as midwife? Did others helps? The innkeeper’s wife? Other travelers with no place to stay? We don’t know. We don’t need to know. We are told what we need to know. A humble birth. In a stable rude. In a backwater town. Involving people who said yes to Love’s design. That’s what we need to know.

Though it’s not a story about Christmas per se, I invite you to listen to a story told by Eduardo Galeano about someone in prison in Uruguay:

“The Uruguayan political prisoners may not talk without permission, or whistle, smile, sing, walk fast, or greet other prisoners; nor may they make or receive drawings of pregnant women, couples, butterflies, stars or birds. [No pregnant women, no stars, sounds like no Christmas for them.]

“One Sunday Didasko Perez, a school teacher, tortured and jailed ‘for having ideological ideas,’ is visited by his daughter Milay, aged five. She brings him a drawing of birds. The guards destroy it at the entrance of the jail. [Remember: No birds.]

“On the following Sunday, Milay brings him [her father] a drawing of trees. Trees are not forbidden, and the drawing gets through. Didasko praises her work and asks about the colored circles scattered in the treetops, many small circles half-hidden among the branches: ‘Are they oranges? What fruit is it?’ [her father asks] The child puts her finger to her mouth: ‘Ssssshhh.’

“And she whispers in his ear: ‘Silly. Don’t you see they’re eyes? They’re the eyes of the birds that I’ve smuggled in for you.’”

Tonight, amidst the greed, and hate, and violence, and apathy, and suffering, and strife, and grief, of this world, of our lives, we gather around a story of Divine Love, God, finding a way into our world, to be with us, to love us more fully. Coming as a baby, smuggled in, where no one would think to look. Humble and helpless, dependent, and in that baby, the eternity of Love is birthed into this world. Showing us that in every baby the eternity of Love is birthed into this world. Reminding us, that Love is gonna get in. That no guards, no greed, no unjust systems, no hatred or war, no abuse or neglect, can keep Divine Love from entering our lives and our world. Love is going to find a way, make a way, to infiltrate our reality. There is no limit to the creativity and imagination of God to be present in this world.

So intent is God’s desire, that God comes smuggled in that Babe of Bethlehem. And that was to put us on alert. Watch out! You really never know what God will do. Anything is possible. Everything is possible. Even in this world of hatred, violence, police shootings, insurrections, civil wars, greed, and environmental collapse, Love is going to get in.

So, here, in this small gathering, of a tiny church, dangling at the end of a peninsula, soon to be swamped by the rising seas, in this backwater of a place, and these humble surroundings, don’t be surprised. God is making a way in. Again. Smuggling Love into the world, this time through us. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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