Did you hear that? That noise, that quiet noise in the midst of this wondrous morning? No, not the coffee maker or the noise of wrapping paper flying. That baby crying. Did you hear it? A baby crying doesn't sound like something we should be listening for on Christmas, but it is actually the very epitome of what Christmas is. The cry of this baby is not just any baby, it's the Christ child, arms outstretched to embrace us, a child born at the outskirts of our society, to refugee’s, witnessed by cattle and uneducated sheppards. Nothing about this story, or even this morning makes sense, yet the cry of this baby pierces our silence and quiet because today is the day when God cries out for us from the manger, a manger in which God chooses to be so intimately connected to us that he had to become one of us. Today God sings to us, in the cries of Christ, about God's own self, a self that aches for our wholeness and justice not just in the kingdom but in this world too.
As a commentator put it this week, you are not likely to remember much of the Vicars sermon as you leave this place today, not because you aren't listening or paying attention, but because music is so much a part of our traditions and memories of Christmas. Which makes sense, given that all our readings this morning are literally hymns of praise of crying out in joy to God for what God has done, rather than explanations of what God has done. At its center is the great cosmological statement of God's identity, the prologue to John, which also does not describe what happens here at the manger this morning, but sings to us of the cosmic self-disclosure of who and what God is. This is important to remember because Christmas is less about explaining and mapping out the intricacies of what happened in God becoming one of us, and is more about the whole universe crying out in song and celebration at the fact that it happened at all. While we know why it happened, by virtue of our ability to have read ahead in scripture, it's important for us to remain in this frame of Gods vocalizing God's self to us in the cries of this baby's song. A song that we’ve heard all over our cities in this last year.
When God comes to us and becomes of the same flesh as us, God is doing more than playing puppetry with us to pretend that our suffering is somehow any less than it was before. God's birth today is not a magic wand of hopeful distraction and dismissal from the world, no, and we know that to be true because we approach this manger every year with the same hope for the social challenges that beset us to disappear. Yet they remain. At no time in this child's life will they get an easy pass on life, they will be excluded, threatened, questioned, tested, and challenged- just like us, ultimately dying for the very purpose they were born- to redeem us forever. But before we get ahead of ourselves and start putting up our Easter crosses, and rehearsing our Alleluias, it's important to see the voice being opened for us today between the humanity and the purpose of what we encounter again today. The cries of this infant are for us, cries of joy and anger, cries of joy asking us to embrace him as we would any crying child as well as cries of anger, warning to the world that the injustices that we have lived with will no longer reign. Christ from his throne, this feed stall of hay and animal dung wrapped in rags, is saying to us and our world that the old order is finished, and that the justice of God's kingdom will reign on earth, something he will stake his life on.
But Vicar, you may be asking, what does this have to do with Christmas and why is it different than last year? God came down at Christmas to set us free, to bring to fulfill the message of the prophets, that the messiah, the saviour was to come and redeem israel. It is different because every year, every time we hear this story, we are opened to a new awareness to Gods purpose among us, which changes our way of seeing for ever. Once we see it, we can’t unsee it. Our lives and world have been isolated, challenged, held back, afflicted, unemployed, and left by the side in order for social development and profit to reign. And when I speak of our lives and world, I do not just mean our lives here in this parish in or western world isolation, I mean the lives of everyone in this parish, city, province, nation, and globe. I mean the lives of the developing world who make our fast fashion clothes. I mean the immigrants and refugees who are treated like terrorists rather than family. I mean the voices of those who needlessly died of Covid this year. I mean the minorities who are underrepresented in our structures of power. I mean the LGBTQ+ community. I mean the victims of sex trafficing. I mean the drug addicted. I mean the incarcerated, the afflicted, the forgotten, the alone, the hurting and lost. I mean you and I, and many more, with all our fears and challenges, that bring us again to the edge of this crib today. It is their message, our message of “enough”, that brings the message of Christmas to life in the purpose of what God is doing for us this morning. God's message this morning is one of Love, of a visible and equitable love. A love that once seen working among us can not be unseen.. A love that sends us out into the world with a renewed sense of purpose, to encounter and enliven the voices in our world at the margins of our society and within us, the voices which cry out “enough! Give us justice and peace now!”
Christmas offers us a refrain to this song of God's incarnation, of God's justice from the crib this morning, a refrain that says “if it's not about love, it's not the thing to do.” Say it with me, “if it's not about love, it's not the thing to do.” This is our refrain to God’s cry of love from the crib this morning, a cry which is illuminating the places where we still have work to do. Where exclusion, difference, walls, isolation, and a fear of love still exist. Love cries out to us this morning, and begs us to cry back with love. To cry back with a love that stands for justice for all, that dares to build better communities that reflect our diversity, that tears down walls, that seeks justice based on love rather than an economy of hurt and recrimination. A love that stands in the margins of society, in the power of Jesus Christ, and testifies to the reality that there is a different way for us to live, to live as if every single human being matters and is sacred, where there is enough, where we are enough. A love that starts here, this morning, at the edges of this crib, in the frailty of human flesh, crying out for you and I to embrace this child with all of what we are- both the perfect and the imperfect, so that together we can continue to participate in building with God a society that reflects the kingdom through the mandate of our shared baptisms.
Christmas is the cry of love incarnate, coming to us in the most unlikely of places, to free us from the bondage of sin in our lives and in this world. That is why we sing with joy this morning in our readings, in our worship, and in our hearts. We sing with Joy because against all odds, Christ is born, Christmas has not been canceled and our freedom is at hand! Love is born to us this morning, a love that will set this world on fire with the blazing justice of Gods unquenchable presence and mercy! A love this world is desperate to hear again today.. Did you hear that cry? Ring out your songs of joy, cry out your souls with praise church, Christ is born today! Alleluia! And nothing will ever be the same again! Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia!