HOMILY FROM SERVICE – 26 DECEMBER, 2021
FIRST SUNDAY IN CHRISTMAS
Homily preached by The Rev. Tammy Hobbs Miracky
Oh come let us adore Him. Amen.
I have newborns on my mind these days. As we all spent the weeks of Advent preparing to celebrate the arrival of God in human form, God has a baby. At our house, we received an infant of our own an infant in canine form. Yes, we have a new puppy, and she is gorgeous. If you’ve ever raised a new puppy though, you’ll probably remember that they are decidedly untrained in their early days. In fact, they’re pretty big mess. For starters, they have very sharp baby teeth. And as their baby teeth giveaway to adult teeth, a process that can take up to six months. They chew on anything they can get their mouths on constantly.
Since the first of December the day Izzy came to our home, I have worn only my oldest clothing, my worn out slippers, sweaters that already have patches on the elbows, because everything I wear I know will end up with holes the size of puppy teeth. Everything that typically rests on the floor in our house that basket full of magazines in the living room or the pile of books waiting to be re-shelve my son’s backpacks, any pair of shoes, the cords of computers, phones, lamps. Puppies are chewing on something almost every second they’re awake.
Consequently, every surface in our house right now is piled high with things that usually live at a lower level. most poignant this season, perhaps the season when Christmas has already been turned upside down. For so many of us. We have a Christmas tree without lights. Because of the cords. We have ornaments only on the top two thirds of our tree. And no gifts could be placed under the tree until the very moment when we began to open them. In our house, we are in disarray. Puppies are curious and cuddly and adorable. And they grow to be amazing companions and important members of the family.
But there’s no way around it. Puppies are a lot of work. They require constant care and tending. They’re vulnerable. They depend on us utterly for a long time. They arrive and they up end life as usual. So with our new puppy in the house, perhaps more than any Christmas since my own sons were infants. This year I’m struck by God’s choice to enter our world as a baby. Now today’s Gospel John is different than the one we heard from Luke on Christmas Eve, perhaps less earthy.
John represents Jesus as being from before time with God in the beginning. In fact, the Gospel starts with the same phrase that begins the book of Genesis, in the beginning, in the beginning says Genesis the earth was a formless void, and darkness covered the face of the deep. And in that beginning says John was the word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all three things came into being through him. And without him no thing came into being. But in the beginning that first Christmas, before humans saw Jesus’s life lived, before people began to try to interpret and communicate the meaning of his life. In that beginning, God came into the world as a baby.
And Luke’s Gospel Jesus is born in a stable, he’s laid in a manger. He arrives as a fragile, vulnerable infant dependent on those around him for his very survival. So what what do we do with This God as baby, what does it mean? That God chose to come into history as a baby? I could say that our response must be one of humility. How could it be any other? If we follow a Savior who was laid in a manger? At birth? I could say that our response must be to join in God’s work of justice, to hear that call of that song that Mary sang when she visited and was blessed by Elizabeth. God has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. God has scattered the proud in their conceit. God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. Yes, I could say that our response must be to line up behind our God, a God of reversals, a God of restoration, God who desires healing and wholeness. How could our response be any other if we follow the son of Mary? Or I could say that our response must be one of faith, to hold on to our trust and belief in God, through the incredibly challenging times we’re experiencing? How could it be any other if we follow this son of an unwed teenager, and her yet to be husband, both of whom received God’s message through angels?
There is a time for each of these responses to God’s grace and presence in our world and in our lives, to the fact that God entered into history and became as one of us. In fact, the prophet Micah named this posture for us. What does God require of you mortal, Mike asks, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Each of these is a valid legitimate response to Christmas. But I’m finding a different response in myself this year. And I think it comes back to the vulnerability, the fragility of that baby, the way babies up in life as we know it, holding the promise of something new.
It brings me back to puppies. You see, our puppy has an older sister, Juno. Juno is almost 11 years old now. And she came to our home in a season that was, I’ll say, more hospitable to being outside with a new puppy. I remember that first summer being in our backyard, just sitting on the grass and watching her frolic, chasing whatever scent, the wind carried her way, just being in the presence of her puppy Enos in its full expression. And I noticed something in that moment that has stuck with me all this time. I was able to see her as complete as the creature she was made to be. I noticed in that moment that unlike with my own human children, I had no expectations of anything Juno would learn or become or bring about in the world. I was able to see her as she was in that moment. And she was simply beautiful.
So this year at Christmas, while I acknowledge Mike is counsel and I will get back to his prophetic call for justice, mercy and humility. Right now, today this Christmas season. I want to adore that baby. I want to linger in this moment of potential and beauty. Yes, with John I see all the promise that that baby brings to our world I see the light of all people that shines in the darkness and will not be overcome. I see the true light which enlightens all people and I see the glory as of God’s only son. But this year, this year I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that as one commentator puts it, this decisive act of Revelation. And reconciliation was not an announcement of universal principles or truths. Instead, it was a baby. This year, I want to see the beauty of the moment God became human. I want to see the love and the grace embodied in that baby who came in to our world.