Monday, January 15, 2018

Christmas Eve, 2017

Breath into Life

Tonight begins with music and light as, together, we create an elegant, sacred and joyful space in which to offer our praise to the God who has come into our midst.

Silence, breath, flickering flame.

The bow across strings, the inhaled breath preceding the sound, and then, the sound.

Breath giving life to our hopes and our fears.

The breath over the water, the breath of life, the first cry of a baby born in a stable thousands of miles and thousands of years away.

This is a new creation.

And, we gather.

We gather to celebrate with heart and mind; body and soul, the new creation as it gathers within the spare stone walls of a stable.  

Mary and Joseph; the animals within; angels; shepherds; and a newborn. Creation begins anew as the Garden of Eden’s entirety is encompassed by stone walls built by human hands.

Mary, Joseph, beasts and their keepers, and a baby birthed—not within the confines of the garden but within the truth of this world.

This world. Where all is forgiven, and love prevails in this place, this place, where a woman breathes and strains through the labor pains—this is the dawn of new life.

And, here we are. In the dark of night, marking the dawn.

A new day in which God becomes a baby. A baby born to poor parents. A baby swaddled with rags. A baby rooting for the breast. A baby who the world would call the least of these.

The new creation emerges in the midst of a vulnerable people, in a fragile form.

And, as I consider the fragility of the infant. It is striking, this is a new creation that cannot survive without our care.

Our care. And when we gather with the shepherds, we gather as stewards of this creation. Giving of ourselves so that this baby can survive. So that this baby can thrive. So that this baby can transform the world.

What a wonder this is. That this new creation requires our care--requires our compassion.

The story needs us. The baby needs us. This family needs us. And so we gather, as active participants in what God has done for the world. What God continues to do for the world when we focus ourselves and our lives on the new creation found in the most vulnerable of people, in the most fragile of moments.

What is important is this. What is crucial is this. What matters is this…

Tonight, we re-set our priorities. Tonight, we live into our calling—to center ourselves on something so much more than ourselves.

Not for me. Not for you. For us. All of us. All of us who, in this incarnation, become more than we once were and all that we might be. Christ abides in us as we abide in him…and, on this night, Christ is born to us. Christ is born in us. Christ is born in this gathering that knits together Christ’s very body.

And in this moment of birth, the powers of this world fade to the background. There is no social media, no 24/7 news cycle, no newspapers, no MPR, no shock radio...just us, the faithful body turning our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our bodies towards the beautiful, awe-filled, amazing truth of God's love for us.

In this story, the emperor gets two sentences...the infant, the universe.

As it should be, as it should be in any world, in our world--that a baby is born and the world in all its brokenness gives way to awe in the face of the infinite and powerful potential of life. Fragile, vulnerable, messy, needy, rooting, and rejoicing, life!

In this moment of awe...violence and destruction lose their sway over us. In this moment of awe, worry gives way to anticipation. In this moment of awe, we may be afraid, yes—but we are also filled with hope.

Filled with hope because, on this night true worship is given to a baby born to poor parents. On this night, we give breath to creation. On this night, we are knit together in one body, for one purpose.

On this night, we the rulers of this world do not get to dictate the terms of the story because they are not the authors of this story. God is, and in God’s story no ruler is greater than the shepherd, no king mightier than the swaddled infant, no house more radiant than the stable.  

This is a story of God's intention, our longing, our need, and a baby who fulfills it all—God’s story, our story.

And so, the faithful gather to hear our story. A story which holds all of our hopes and fears. A story with is ours but not ours alone. A story which holds at its center the vulnerable. A story which we are invited to make our story. A story where those who attend to the baby are the shepherds, the stewards, of the new creation. A story in which we are responsible for the vulnerable, the vulnerable one who will love and live for us all.

At this time, we gather. At this time, we proclaim—our part in the story. Our part in the new creation.

So together, let us stand and sing…

MMMMMMM

Who is as the hymn would put it, the sum total of all of our hopes and fears.

And, here we gather with all of OUR hopes and fears.

We, this is not a story for any one of us...it is a story for all of us. A story that we gather together for, a story best heard in community, a story proclaimed this night around the world.

Cairo, Somalia, New Delhi, Mexico City, Luxembourg, Paris, Israel, Palestine, and here, here at

Here, at St Clement's in St Paul Minnesota. The church where inscribed above the arch is an invitation, perhaps even a command, to gather in he new creation.

The Spirit and the bride say come....

This a moment of revelation, of the revelation. Of glory, of hope,

O come all he faithful, joyful and triumphant!


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