Christmas Day – Luke 8-20
It’s so quiet this morning, so calm, so empty. Our liturgy this morning is simple – no music, no pageantry, no incense, no crowds of people filled with Christmas Eve excitement and anticipation. The angels are back in heaven and the shepherds have returned to their fields and flock. There aren’t many of us here this morning, there never are.
It’s so quiet this morning, so calm, so empty. Christmas Day is one of my favorite services every year. It’s just us and the baby.
Most years I come to Christmas morning with two questions: Now what? So what? I never seem to have a final and lasting answer. So, once again, I come to Christmas morning with the same two questions.
The child has been born. He is “wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” Now what?
To us “is born this day … a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” So what?
I don’t mean them as flippant questions. They’re serious and important questions. Now what? So what? They’re the same questions I had the day my son, Randy, was born.
The nurse placed almost eight pounds of new life in my hands and said that I could carry him to the nursery. It shouldn’t have been that hard but it felt like I was learning to walk for the very first time, holding life in a new way, and seeing myself and the whole world differently. Everything had changed. I thought things I had never thought before, felt things I had never felt before, and asked questions I had never asked before.
Though I had known him only a short time I was pretty sure I liked him but worried he wouldn’t like me. And how do you change a diaper? Am I ready to be a dad? I wonder what this is giving and offering me? What will it ask of me? What does it mean that this child has been born to me?
Maybe you remember that day with your own children. Maybe your mom or dad told you what it was like for them the day you were born or adopted. Maybe you’ve heard friends or family talk about that day. And even if you’ve not had those experiences I’m betting you’ve had times in your life when you asked yourself, “Now what? So what?”
They’re the questions we ask when we recognize that everything has changed, that something is going on beyond and within what just happened. Most times it’s difficult or even impossible to name it. “Now what? So what?” They’re not questions to be answered but to be pondered.
What do you imagine Mary might have been pondering about this morning and this child?
And what are you pondering about this morning and this child?
Babies have a way of changing everything without really doing anything. They’re just there and everything is different. I wonder what this Bethlehem baby changes for you.
- What difference has he made in your life?
- What difference is he making in your life today?
- What difference do you hope he’ll make or need him to make in your life?
And how does any of that come about? He can’t talk, walk, or feed himself. Remember, the angel did not say that someday, when he grows up, in thirty years or so, he’ll be a savior. So how can this child, this day, “wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger” be to us “a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Maybe it happens with this baby as is does with any baby. A newborn child is the image of weakness and powerlessness. Whatever this child needs or wants will have to be done for him by someone else. Maybe that someone else is you and me. Maybe it’s less about what this child does or will do and more about what he insists and calls for from us.
The powerless power and the weak strength of this baby, like any baby, are in his insistence.
When my son was hungry I fed him. When he was wet I changed him. When he was afraid I comforted him. I responded again and again to what he was insisting in the moment – love, hope, peace, joy, encouragement, patience, food, clothing, play. On my better days, when I listening and attentive, my response to his insistence made all the difference in the world, in him, and in me.
Maybe that’s how God works in our lives and the world, not so much by doing but by insisting. Maybe that’s why God chose to most fully reveal God’s self as a newborn.
What if this birth isn’t God’s answer to the world but God’s call to the world? Maybe this child is insisting and asking for a response from you and me. I wonder what that might be. It’s something to ponder.
Now what? So what? Those are our questions to answer, not his.