We celebrate the birth of Jesus each year to remember that Jesus, God with us, came into the world as we all do, giving us purpose and a future.
Vicar Mollie Hamre
The Nativity of Our Lord, Advent A
Texts: Isaiah 52:7-10 and John 1:1-14
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
There’s a giant clock in New York City that can be found counting down.
It is found on East 14th Street with one word beside it that reads “DEADLINE.” This clock is not for the New Year, but one that counts down the critical time window to reach zero emissions in order to limit the long-term damages of climate change. People walk by this clock everyday and today it reads 6 years, 209 days, 1 hour, 3 minutes, and so many seconds.
I say this because that clock is something I think about a lot.
And as that clock enters my mind, I want to know. What difference does it make today? What difference does the coming of God today mean to us when we think about that clock? How does God tell us that we can live in God’s reign when our world fights change that is needed?
Especially on the backdrop of a world that God proclaims to have come and still resides in. It leaves me feeling anxious and isolated. It leaves me feeling vulnerable and wanting to push away those problems.
But I also think that when we open up ourselves, that it leads us to God and to truly think about how God comes to us today.
John tells us, “The world came into being through God, yet the world did not know God.”
Jesus, God with us, comes in the form of a human, like us. Not in an epic entrance from a superhero movie, but from a remarkable, yet ordinary woman who existed in a time of Empire rule. A human born in the stables, as a refugee, and into a world that cries for help, just as ours does.
And Jesus, God with us, enters directly into that world, in the hardship and begins to walk among the people. Not noticeable, but also not fully under the radar either, to bring the Word and light to people. Stirring up questions about what the world could be. Accompanying people in discovering grace and truth in the world. And as soon as people began to implement that grace and truth in their lives transformation happened.
But this is not a God only transformation.
The Gospel goes on to say that as God takes on human flesh to be within the world, that there are others part of this light too. Those called to witness to live and proclaim the light. That is you and me, testifying the way God calls for justice, the healing of creation and bringing God’s reign to the world.
We are called to be witnesses and proclaimers of God’s light. And we are told today that this same light that was in the prophet John is inside of you and me, alive with passion and hope. Just as it is in your neighbor. And just as it is in strangers you do not know showing life, a reflection of God’s presence, and announcing hope to a world that would rather dismiss than embrace transformation.
This does not sweep away anxieties, it does not take away the pain. It does not suddenly fix climate change. And even worse, it asks that we are vulnerable.
But it is the key for the Clock in New York City.
Occasionally the numbers on the clock changes from the “DEADLINE” count down to a second set of numbers. This instead is a percentage that reads “Lifeline” indicating the amount of energy from renewable sources in the world. And truthfully, it is not much at the moment. It feels insignificant, easy to pass over, and almost not worth our time.
But to God, it is a little piece of light amidst a daunting countdown. A light to witness and testify. A flicker of hope, challenging that the future could be so much more, that our world can be a better place.
And when we see those pieces of light, that is when God appears.
This light tells us each year that Jesus, God with us, came into the world, as we all do, with a purpose, and a future, that God walks within it. Telling us we are not alone. And daring us to hope for the kind world that the people from Isaiah celebrate as the messenger brings good news. The world that the Psalm proclaims as God judges the world with righteousness and equity. We celebrate the birth of Jesus each year because it reminds us that God is active in our world and continues to be, even when we do not see God.
This is the little light that comes to us today.
The light that tells us and pushes us to work towards good in the world. Jesus, God with us, comes to experience the pain that is within life. To be vulnerable. To experience the fear and doubt that plague us. And to tell us that even when we are amidst the shadows, there is a light that shines through.
This is the light that brings transformation.
A light that tells us our world can grow with renewable energy. A light that tells us we can have a future where people are no longer in the cold. Where all people are welcomed and loved, no strings attached. A light that listens to the voice of the oppressed and uplifts those in need.
The birth of Jesus makes a difference to the Clock in New York City because we need to know that we can make a difference. And when we are isolated and anxious, we are reminded, through one another, that God continues to appear. That God continues to call us each and every day to seek out ways to emulate Christ. And to know that we can truly have a hope for a future because the “word” that we grow in together is the same that has taken on flesh and continues to live among us. Showing ways to work together and to have hope that a brighter future lies ahead.
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.