For those who couldn’t join us tonight:
On another Christmas Eve a few years back in a country across the pond, one of my favorite theologians was just coming off of a world tour, and Paul Hewson (better known to the world as Bono) silently slipped in to a Christmas Eve service and had a revelation:
“The idea that God, if there is a force of Love and Logic in the universe, would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself by becoming a child born in poverty … and straw, a child, I just thought, ‘Wow!’ Just the poetry … I saw the genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this … Love needs to find a form … Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be an incarnation. Love must be made flesh.”
The holy mystery of the incarnation made perfect sense to Paul Hewson on that night. Love needs a form. Love has to become action. Most of you gathered here tonight are probably all actioned out. You’ve been buying and wrapping presents, cleaning and cooking to prepare for guests, running around trying to get it all done by, well, now. You probably don’t want to hear about any action you need to take. You came for the candles and carols and communion. You came to soak up the wonder of it all. Not to take action.
Well, there’s good news for you. There’s a reason that the Baby Jesus is Ricky Bobby’s favorite Jesus. This isn’t the demanding grown-up Jesus that tells you to follow him, to love the unlovable and touch the untouchable and forgive those who wrong you. This is the Baby Jesus. The one who came to be with us. To give form to the love God has for us.
Whitney Houston, God rest her soul, was wrong. As important as it is, the greatest love of all is not learning to love yourself. The greatest love of all is the love God has for us. That is the love we celebrate here tonight. Tonight is indeed the night to revel in the wonder of it all. To believe all over again. To let the love of God, made manifest through the birth of Christ, soak into the very core of your being.
We need this annual encounter with the Baby Jesus to equip us for the journey with the grown-up and living Lord Jesus. Because people who know that they are loved and live out their lives in grateful response to that love are the kind of people God calls us to be.
So take a break from the action tonight. Christ is born. Love is made flesh. Soak it all in. Then go and live like people who believe.
–Rev. Anne Russ