Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The lessons today are pointedly about the meaning of Christmas, not about the birth narratives, and definitely not about Yuletide celebrations, commercial or even ecclesiastic.
As a reminder, Ernest and I have occasionally sent out this message as a Christmas card:
The Gospel Truth
Well, you remember how at Christmas
last year the two fairies down our street
wrote "Bah, Humbug!" on their front door,
using rhinestones in Olde English script
(You know how they are!)?
Well, I just learned that last week
the one who teaches at the college
told a group of students at a Christmas party
that Jesus was born
without benefit of heterosexuality
and less than nine months
after Mary and Joseph were married!
There really ought to be a law
against such scandal!
If we don't stop them soon,
they'll probably claim
Jesus loves them!
When Ernest and I floodlit our door display, some of our neighbors in rural Georgia threw things at it, and a few others ripped pieces from it. Humbug to their kind of Christmas indeed.
The ‘gospel truth’ is that God truly does love Ernest and me, plus Eve & Margaret, Adam, Eve, Adrian & Andrew, Anno & John, Kim-Ming, Austin, Barbara, Bernie, Beryle & Edna, Betty, Bill & Michael, Bob, Bron & Bruce, Caryl, Catherine, Charles & Cheryl, Clarence & Clifton, Conrad, David & Joseph, Jim & Jo Ann, Irl & Sharon & Jack, Ana & Tawanna, Tim & Tom, Kim & Scott, Chris, Mae Del & Clifton, Ed & Patty, Flo, Joe, Kit, Nan, Ned, Ric, Zou, Wan-kan, Anthony & Evens, Win-win, Eula & Bubbah, Lula & Erman, Bets, Horace, Annakali & Susan, Ronald, Rasalind, Bryan & Luc, Susan, Eliana, Lazaro, Libby, T. C. & Ted, Joyce, Marcela & Marge, Nancy, Linda & Liz, Gordon & Grace, Mike & Mildred, Connie, Hale, Jane, Eugenie & Eunice, Peter, James, Janet, Geoffrey, Wilfred, Sergio, Douglas, Ruth Ann, Michael, Richard & Robert, Kathleen & Kay, Fifi & Fletcher, Marie, Juliette, Regina & Rhoda, Maxine, Monique, Doris, Louis, Louise, Judith, H. J., Nick & Barnet, Jack & Christine, Jack & Linda, Mark, H. K., Parker, Earl & Edgar, Paul & Victor, Neil & Ethel, Neil, Nella & Nicholas, Hillary & Bill, William & Winston, William, Guilio & Jesus, Thomas, Raymond, Inan & Elizabeth, John & Jon, Gwen, Jean, Joan, Francis, Ewing & Fernando, Zhang & Wu, Dennis, Frank, Avinash, Saunders, Cynthia & Beckie, Orris, Marcy, Tilly, Chad, Archie, Derrick, Juan, Beulah, Cheryle, Huntington, Carlos, Cornelius, Derek, Claudia, Rollie & Michael, Odoric, Ginette & Sallie, Demitrio & Alex, Glennes, Grant, L. P. & Andrew, Lavinia, Leopold & Adolph, Edythe & Kathy, Carolyn & Dr. Jay, Rand, Devon, Dorothy & Dot, Lorraine, Deirdre & Julian, Warren, George, Gloria, Patrick, Sharon & Shujan, Henry, Russ, Luis & Lynn, Otis & Pamela, Cassandra, Marshall & Martha Luz, Judson, Justin, Milton, Victor & Wantu, Shiuanan, Zhouyi, Gervais, Steven, Melvin & Merritt, Lloyd, Luo-Zhang, Adam & Eve, Lutibelle, Li Min Hua, and absolutely everybody.
Joy to the whole world!
One of the amazing things about Isaiah is his certainty about God’s goodness regardless of the current circumstances, under various invasions of Israel. He proclaimed that the earth is the God’s and that God will destroy it, but God will not destroy Israel if Israel will remain faithful to God.
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Psalm 147 or 147:13-21
Like Isaiah, the psalmist stresses that God is on the side of the humble and the meek.
God is not impressed by the might of a horse; *
he has no pleasure in the strength of a man;
But the LORD has pleasure in those who fear him, *
in those who await his gracious favor.
Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian. -- unless you are lesbigay -- according to too many in the Church.
Christ has turned the rules upside down, inside out. Those who were condemned by the law are now justified by our faith in Christ our savior. And not us only: God loves absolutely everybody just as much (not more and not less) as God loves lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered.
The Word of God is person, not a book. The Bible bears important witness to that person, but it is no substitute for that person. We worship the person Jesus, not the book.
In his book The Sexuality of Jesus William Phipps reveals painting after painting of the Madonna with mother Anne pointing gleefully to an obvious erection on the baby Jesus. Sometimes a man is standing behind appearing to peek, as if luridly. He is Joseph, rejoicing with his wife and mother-in-law. To the huge audience of the church for centuries this scene was not lurid at all. The Vatican museum may be one of the few safe places for these paintings in our time, but for centuries they were treasured as holy icons of the incarnation in churches throughout Christendom.
Early Christians had little problem in understanding how Jesus could be God: the bigger miracle for them was how God could be human. The erect penis of the Christ Child was irrefutable proof of God’s humanity.
God did not turn out the lights when She made us! All parts of us are honorable. God made us whole. Rejoice!
Imagine how much more the Good News would be perceived as such if those of us who have heard it would be as welcoming as God is.