Christmas 2014 Track II children and turn away---God still loves us this much. A Virgin Birth. Preposterous? I know some people find it so. In fact, for some this outrageous claim about a Virgin Birth is too much. Too much. It is a claim that makes Christianity just entirely “too much” to swallow. I mean, come on, right? Why would we--intelligent, civilized, thinking human beings---why would we believe in a Virgin Birth? God still loves us so much, that in order to help us find our way back to the Promise, God sends his only Son---the Divine steps out of Paradise into the pain of human existence in order to lead us home. To show us that it is possible to still know hope, joy, and love in the midst of darkness. Jesus came to show us how to live. To demonstrate what it means to be human---truly human made in the image of the Divine. And I get it. I do understand the need to be able to wrap one’s head around it. I like figuring things out as much as the next person. I enjoy putting together the clues to arrive at the answer. Nothing better than a good mystery. And Jesus—God becoming flesh—is a good mystery. A mystery like no other. The birth of a baby boy who is really the Son of God---fully human and fully divine. 100% divine and 100% human, so that’s…..200%? Wait a minute--that doesn’t make any sense. After all, would we really want it to make sense? Do we really want to limit God’s capabilities and influence to the limits of human understanding? Why would we think the Almighty, the Creator of all things, should be reasonable, explainable, and logical? Why are we surprised that the best we can do with our language, our images, our words and phrases, is to come up with something that can only be defined as a Mystery? And Jesus doesn’t make any sense--not by human standards. By human standards, it doesn’t make sense to love as God loves. A gracious and overwhelming love that provides us this Creation, the beauty of nature, the gifts and talents each of us have, the relationships and blessings we receive, the abundance of food and drink which is enough, when shared accordingly, to provide for every human need. Yet, every Mystery still contains great Truth. And our truth in the mystery of the Incarnation—the birth of this Son of God---is, at least, two-fold. First of all, God desires to be born within humanity. Within us. God, who is beyond all our knowing and understanding, God desires to be as close as our heartbeat, as near as our next breath, as present as our every thought. God comes to dwell in us, in you. It doesn’t make sense that God---even when we refuse to listen, when we disobey, even when we act like petulant And our second Truth: The healing of humanity’s wounds and wrongs— salvation comes from God---but through humanity. Through human hands, human voices, human feet, human actions and choices. Salvation doesn’t come from magic or good mojo, fate or destiny. Our saving comes from God through us. Salvation comes when we sit with those who grieve and are simply a presence of love. Salvation comes when we hurt someone with our words or our behavior, and the person we wounded forgives us. Salvation comes through the Youth in our Youth group who gave of their own money to provide clean water for people in Zimbabwe who cannot just turn on the faucet. Salvation comes from our Shalom Center that opens its doors in order to welcome in those who are seeking a helping hand through community. Salvation comes when we gather as the living members of the Body of Christ--seeing the face of Christ in one another—and making ourselves vulnerable to the Holy Spirit so she can begin to bind up our wounds and smooth out our rough edges. So if we turn a blind eye, a deaf ear, or a hard heart to the choices, actions and words that give birth to salvation, then we become an obstacle to salvation instead of a gateway. Jesus came to show us how to be the gateway. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom. In any kingdom, it isn’t the King who does all the work. The King empowers and enables the people to make the Kingdom come, the King’s will to be done. The prophet Isaiah reminds us---“take no rest.” We are to shine with the brightness of the true light. For, we believe the Light has come into the world. Jesus, the true Light, has come into the world. And the darkness does not overcome it. Peace on earth? Goodwill to all people? These promises might appear to be as unbelievable as the Virgin birth, but this baby born in a manger reminds us that love, that salvation, that Hope is born in the most unexpected of places, to the most unexpected of people. In places like this, in people like us. Let me share a poem written by Leslie Leyland Fields: Let the stable still astonish: Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes, Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen; Crumbling, crooked walls; No bed to carry that pain, And then, the child, Rag-wrapped, laid to cry In a trough. Who would have chosen this? Who would have said: “Yes, Let the God of all the heavens and earth be born here, in this place?” Who but the same God Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts and says, “Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth be born here --in this place.” In these hearts. In us. Let every heart prepare him room.