Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sermon Year A Christmas Eve Midnight Mass

God Came and God is not disappointed

Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas,
star and angels gave the sign...
Those words were written by poet Christina Rosetti in the year 1885.
Those words have been put to music by a variety of diverse artists,
from Irish folk musicians to John Rutter to Jars of Clay.
You will find one version in our hymnal (page 84 I believe).

Love came down at Christmas.
This is the good news. 

Love came.
We didn’t have to plead or beg or accomplish anything.
Love just came.
Pure gift. Unexpected.

Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest,
who works primarily with gang members in east Los Angeles.
He started a business called Homeboy industries
which provides employment for young people
who want to learn business skills and turn their lives in a different direction.
Greg Boyle also wrote a book 
titled Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.

I read this book while on sabbatical 
and it was one of my favorite reads
during that time.

Recently Greg Boyle’s name surfaced again
in a daily meditation I receive by email.
This time it was in reference to the song
O Holy Night.

He pointed out a line in this song
that we sometimes overlook.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining 
(We remember that line pretty easily)
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
(We’ve got that line memorized, too)
Long lay the world in sin and error pining 
(Oh yeah! Got it covered)
       --and then comes the final line of that verse
and it is the one that we too often forget--
’Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Til he appeared.
And the soul felt its worth.

This is the meaning of Christmas.
Jesus appears.
Love comes down.
So that our souls might feel their worth.

So that we might come to realize, to remember,
that we are loved by God
deeply, widely, completely,unconditionally.

Love comes down in the form of this baby named Jesus
so we might realize and understand that we matter.
We matter!

‘Til he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.

On this holy night we are reminded
that we belong to God
and we belong to each other
and that God has created each one of us to be 
exactly the person we already are.
And God is not disappointed.

Love came down at Christmas
so God might meet us face to face
and God is not disappointed.

You are exactly the person God wants you to be.
I am exactly the person God wants me to be.

We spend so much time trying to perfect ourselves,
to live up to and into the expectations of other people.
That’s not a totally bad thing.
We all have room to grow 
and ways we can improve.
BUT we need to remember that God is not about perfection.
God is about love.
God calls us to be about love as well.
Messy, imperfect, chipped around the edges love.

Remember, if God was about perfection and meeting human expectations,
Jesus would have been born in a gilded palace, 
arriving just as many people hoped and predicted,
as a royal king,
swaddled in soft velvet robes,
with multiple bowing attendants.

But look--
he and his family were pushed into the least elegant accommodations--
no Hilton Diamond Honors Suite for this family.
The attendants at the birth were more likely a cow and a donkey,
maybe a chicken or two and some mice that lived under the straw.

There is nothing perfect or easy about this birth scene.
We sometimes sanitize it;
we have tried to make it picture-perfect over the centuries.
We have added rosy cheeks to Mary
and beaming light and singing blonde angels playing little golden harps.
But the truth is, it was more likely a rough and gritty scene.

But even in the grittiness of it all,
love still came down. 

Even in the grittiness of our own lives,
God wants to enter and be with us.
God loves us--each one of us--
more than we can possibly ask or imagine.

We don’t have to ask for this love
or earn this love
or perform for this love.

God’s love is pure gift.
Pure and abundant and amazing grace.

Why are we here on this holy night?
We are here to say, " Okay! Come in, God!
Come down, love!"
We are here to rejoice!

Christ is born.
The time of waiting is over.
In the story and song,
in the flowers and the greenery,
in the quiet light of candles and sparkling lights,
our souls remember their worth
and we bask in the light of this love.

Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas,
star and angels gave the sign.

No comments: