Audio is gospel reading and sermon preached in Spanish. English translation below.
We are lucky to have such a patient God, aren’t we?
From Day One, God has tried in so many ways and through so many people to get the attention of God’s people. Whether it’s been prophets, poets, or priests– or yelling, whispering, through silence or shouting–people have been and continue to be deaf to Gods call.
And just what, you might ask, is God’s call? It’s the call to know how each and every one of us is loved so much by God.
The Old Testament tells us how God appeared in dreams and burning bushes, provided water in the wilderness and lands flowing with milk and honey, and still the people would not listen. So God got louder and bolder:
Fiery prophets and judges and kings spoke with God’s voice. They tried their best to call the people back to the love that was inside them, but the words fell on deaf ears. They were not believed.
The people created idols of wealth and greed. They worked from fear. Fear preached a gospel of scarcity, me first, and self-centeredness. The people were divided one from another and surrounded themselves with others who looked and thought and talked alike, all along breaking God’s heart. God created them for loving and they were not loving. So, God needed a new plan.
Instead of poets and prophets, instead of manna and messengers, fires and floods, God would become flesh and blood! But how?
A baby! Don’t babies inspire hope for the future? But of course God as a baby has to be extra special. A baby not born of a powerful queen or politician, but a helpless baby, born to a nobody. God was going to become a nobody to show the face of love.
So, God’s angels find Mary. Mary says yes! They find Joseph who also agrees.
This is scandalous! Nothing has been done properly. There is worry and fear about damaged and ruined reputations. Joseph does not want Mary to suffer because of what others think. He wonders and questions, why us? We are poor and simple. We are powerless. Why would God choose to be born here? To us? It does not make any sense. What if we mess up? God is with us!
The baby is born! God is with us, speaking our language. In Jesus we are reminded that God is with us always throughout our lives.
God is with us when times are rough and the weight of the world is heavy on our shoulders.
God is with us through our struggles and storms.
God is with us in our stumbling and shortcomings, in triumphs and our thanksgiving, in the midst of our lives and on the days we seem to barely hold it together. God is with us.
God will continue to be with is as we travel into the unknown, as we venture in deeper water and along uncharted paths. God will be with us in the silence and in the shouts of our liberation and our longing in Jesus. God was, God is, and God will be with us always whatever life throws our way.
I think we sometimes forget that all our lives, our love, and our longings are caught up in a God who became flesh and blood and body to be with us. Our God is not a God that is far off and removed from humanity. Ours is a God who knows hunger and longing and hard work.
“God is with us” is both a pledge and a promise that no matter where we find ourselves in life, even in death, and beyond death, that we are never ever alone.
Don’t you think this broken and pain-filled world we live in is longing to connect with the divine and look for the holy in the midst of the confusion and pain?
As God’s people we are called to remember that God’s love is more than enough to cast out our fear.
We know that God comes to us again and again searching and pulling us back.
Part of knowing is recognizing that in Jesus Christ, God is in charge and no matter how much we long for what has been. God is always pointing to the future. When we get out of our own way, stop worrying about buildings and bridges, pews and pledges, the real work of walking with God in the world begins.
The sacred and often scary work of liberating the poor, feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, caring for the foreigner, honoring the immigrant, and blessing others is why we follow Jesus. How do we live and love like we believe it?
The birth of Christ is not just an event that took place a long time ago. The birth of Jesus, the messiah happens again and again and again in our world as long as we stop long enough to recognize that God is with us.
God is with us.
Thanks be to God!