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“You may have heard…” Early Christmas Eve 2016

“You may have heard this story before. Maybe not. Maybe it has haunted you from the first time you put on a bathrobe and had a towel strapped around your head to be a shepherd in a pageant years ago. Or maybe it’s a new story for you–you may have heard about Jesus and Mary and Joseph somewhere, but who were they? Who are they? You may have heard this story before or maybe not. Hear it again tonight, maybe for the first time. I don’t know if it really happened this way, but I know it is true. And I know that you are part of the story. So, come all you faithful and you doubters and you seekers. Come and listen. Come and sing.”

“You may have heard that God is like Santa Claus on steroids–the list God makes, you know the one about who’s naughty and nice, lasts for eternity, you may have heard; God always sees you, knows if you’ve been bad or good and has cooked up all sorts of terrible things to do to the bad people–which is most of us–and prepared an unbelievably wonderful place for the few good people who pass the test. You may have heard that. But I tell you, God is way more than an old man with a beard. God is Energy with Personality, God is Love and Light, God is Justice and Mercy, God is Mystery. And God is always loving you. God created you as a miracle, a hope for the world, just like the baby whose birth we celebrate tonight. God loves you so much that God slips into human skin at every opportunity, to show us what it means to be fully alive, to help each other out, to stand up for each other, to care for the earth, to heal all our brokenness. There is no present like this present moment, when God is waiting to be born in us.”

“You may have heard that the people with the real power are the ones in the palaces and towers, the ones who make decrees and issue orders and tweets and proclamations. But I tell you that it is the child who cries in the night to wake his parents, the young writer who creates new pathways for imagination, the teen who immerses herself in music to get inside it and so to allow it to flow in new ways through her, the grad student who invents a machine to sweep plastic from the oceans, the single mother who raises her children to be caring and responsible, the refugee who shows the face of our connectedness, the grandfather who shares his wisdom with troubled youth, the old woman who dies with hope and dignity– these are the ones with the real power to change the world. The rulers of the world have no idea what they’re up against.”

“You may have heard that you have to be popular and perfect to get anywhere that matters. But I tell you it was to some of the dirtiest, crummiest, most socially awkward, and frankly, not too bright shepherds that God chose to send that angel choir and announce the birth of the Messiah. Introverts and loners–this is our moment! God can find us wherever we are, minding our own business, and enlist us in the saving of the world. The thing is, like the shepherds, you can’t keep that news to yourself. You’ve got to go and see for yourself, and then you’ve got to tell everyone you meet what you’ve learned. Then you can hole up for a few days to re-group, but don’t forget this is too important to hide your light away. Find some folks who’ll love you and let you speak and act in your own timing. And those of you who love to speak to find out what you’re thinking, and who just love to mix and mingle, we need you too. Find a way to tell the Good News that God hasn’t given up on us, and then allow folks time to absorb it and put it into their own words. You may have heard that you have to popular and perfect to get anywhere that matters, but I tell you God made your true self perfect and unique, and living out of that true self is the surest way to get anywhere that truly matters.”

“You may have heard that God sends messiahs and rulers to save us, to take us away from the daily, dirty tasks of life, to lift us above our bodies’ desires into spiritual thoughts, to set us apart from those “others”–the ones who don’t think like us or worship like us or look like us or love like us–but I tell you that this night, God shows us how much God loves these human bodies and how we are to be saved–by allowing God to be born in us, to take our places among the animals and stars, to be humble and wise, to listen to people who don’t have the ear of anyone in any kind of power, to be brave and to travel together. It is by the “holy harmony” that God’s coming makes in you that you shall know the truth of who you are and Whose you are, and the truth shall set you free. He is born this night, and every moment, God is always doing a new, unimaginable thing, longing for us to notice and get onboard. We are the ones God has been waiting for. Let us be born this night as well.”

Rev. Mary H. Lee-Clark


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