December 24, 2011
Grace and Peace to you this evening. Grace and Peace.
Shhhhhhhhh… How many ways have we heard this? And how many ways have we used it ourselves?
We shush people in the theater who are talking, or have a cell phone, or who otherwise disturb our enjoyment.
We shush people who say things we don’t like to hear.
We shush children who interrupt our adult seriousness.
This night we celebrate another kind of shushing – we celebrate Mary shushing her baby. Shhhhhhhh. There is something in the shushing of a baby by a loving parent that says,
It will be okay.
You can go to sleep.
I will be here when you wake.
So Mary is shushing Jesus. This impossible baby. This baby born not of the normal means, intentionally or by accident. This baby born out of the impossible promises of God. This baby who will have something to say about the way the world tries to shush imagination and shush faithful obedience to anything but the ways of fear and death.
This impossible baby will have something to say about how the world shushes the prophets, and the poor, and women, and foreigners, and the faithful, and outcasts, and any who do not fit in, and any who are seen as a commodity and not human.
This impossible baby will grow in the spirit and speak against such shushing. He will speak a word of love for all, compassion for all, justice for all, mercy for all, food for all, homes for all, forgiveness for all, hope for all, a place for all.
He will speak a word of peace to us in those moments when we are too fearful to speak.
He will speak a word of grace to us in those moments when we are too guilty or ashamed to live.
He will speak word of rebuke to all of those things that get in the way of living fully, loving deeply, serving joyfully.
He will shush the wind and waves of the stormy sea.
He will shush the unclean spirit that would wreck a person’s life.
He will shush those who try and use religion as a weapon, as a way of denying human dignity or social justice or humane economics.
And the world will take offense. The world will shush him.
Religious people with too much at stake in the ways of the world will shush him, because they do not have enough trust in the power of God to bring new life.
Military leaders will shush him, afraid of losing the tenuous control that fear and force provide.
Politicos will shush him, fearing the empowerment of all people and the uncontrollable nature of a neighborhood where true compassion is practiced.
His own family will shush him, fearing for his sanity.
His right hand man will shush him, fearing for his safety.
Even his followers, then and now, will shush him, because we all have something vested in the world as we know it. We all fear what we cannot control. We all fear change. We don’t want to admit that the world, as we always thought it was going to be, isn’t; and we don’t want to trust the world that is coming to be to anything beyond our own power and our need for control.
And when the powers of fear and death gather to shush him finally; when his followers run away, shushing their own preaching of the kingdom, locking themselves in silence and fear; when the world tries to speak the final word, and that word is death, even death on a cross; In that silence, God will again speak an impossible word, do an impossible thing, unleash an impossible grace.
And we will once again know what we receive tonight. Tonight we receive this impossible child.
And if we listen carefully…
And if we still all those anxious thoughts for a moment…
Perhaps we too can hear the songs of angels. Perhaps we too can hear a mother, shushing her child. Perhaps we too can know the One who speaks an impossible word, and gives us life, and new life.
Thanks be to God. Amen.