A Christmas homily for both young and old.
Some Christmas pageants have plastic baby dolls stand in for Jesus. But the liveliest of Christmas pageants have a real live baby! (As we did in our live zoom version with baby Ryan this year!)
And when that live Baby Jesus makes his dramatic debut — all eyes are on the little tiny fellow. You can hear a pin drop as the Holy Family goes up to Bethlehem and climbs the altar stairs. Heads turn and hearts melt as all eyes are on the miniature messiah — propped up in Mary’s lap.
A little bitty baby who cannot walk, who cannot talk, cries at night, and messes in his pants.
Tame and tender, the grandeur of God is reduced to a babe in arms. The Madonna and Child are everywhere this season — more poignant than ever in a pandemic. Crafted out of paper, plastic, and plaster. Fronting Christmas cards and frozen in Christmas creches. Sentimental and sweet. Safe and sound.
Round yon virgin, mother and child, holy infant, so tender and mild.
Have you ever smelled a newborn baby? Have you ever stuck your nose in their neck? There is no other scent like it: a scent of the holy, a whiff of the divine, the aroma of life itself.
And if you have, you know then and there that you are hooked. Your ears tune in to decipher every whimper, every gurgle, every cry.
Teach me, little one how to love you.
A baker’s dozen of Emmanuel families have welcomed a new little bundle of hope and joy (which I am quite sure does not always feel so hopeful or joyous.😊) into their lives over the past year and a half or so.
Liam & Lucas
John (Jack) Guthrie
(I apologize if I missed any one! And I did not know every baby’s middle name.😊)
All of these helpless little persons win over your heart and take over your world (in ways no baby book could ever help you to imagine.😊)
Each a reflection of our subversive little savior.
It has been said that Christmas is for such as these. And why not? God came into the world a screaming scrawny infant, fragile and small. Just as human as you and me.
And “unless you become little you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Not literally little, of course, but aligned in solidarity with the human condition which God himself chose.
God gets little, needy, helpless, hungry.
God gets little, fragile, vulnerable, and dependent on others to change his diapers.
Born into poverty of a peasant girl in a backwater town.
Not that we may just coddle and coo over the manger, but in hindsight to see that this little Messiah is God on the move. Moving our hearts and minds and souls to embrace the vulnerable among us. Not just in our prayers but in all we do.
I want to draw your attention to the Weekly Thursday e-news, especially to the Twelve Days of Christmas Giving Challenge (which you can click on here.) Organized by Kim Scott and Margaret Wohler, the invitation to participate begins:
“A young family out on the street at Christmas with no room left at the inn? In 2020? This year? Oh, HECK NO! Not if we can help it.”
The twelve days start today, Christmas Eve and end on Epiphany, Jan 6. Twelve days with twelve ways to contribute to struggling families and organizations that help to keep people in their homes and food on their tables.
Do you have housewares or furniture you might donate? To help a disabled Marine veteran, or an unemployed father of two, or an immigrant mom struggling with lupus? I bet you do.
Do you have a little extra money in your pocket to help fund the organizations and non-profits whose mission every day is to help those in need? Casa Chirilagua, Carpenters Shelter, Lazarus Ministry, Friends of Guest House, ALIVE, Arlington Food Assistance Center, Catholic Charities or United Community Ministries? I bet you do.
No donation is too little. Or too large.
The subversive little savior can creep through the cracks, mend what is broken, break open souls — if we make room in the inn and invite him in.
Love is why God gets little at Christmas.
And for love of neighbor, may we this Christmas get little too.
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog