Sunday, 25 December 2011

BE BORN IN US TODAY - A Sermon for Midnight Mass

We meet here on this night, this wonderful night in which we remember the story of the incarnation our hope rooted in our experience of the Christ story; that God is here, God is amongst us, God is with us.

And we gather here in the dark of night to worship that God; to gather around this crib and marvel at the truth of the Nativity — the truth that out of the warm nurturing darkness of a woman’s womb God chose the ultimate message of faith, hope and love to be born ; that
in the dark of night, God’s vision for the world became embodied in a human life, born of a woman and that in Jesus the truth that God IS present with God’s people was shown - the ancient message of the God of love and faithfulness and hope was revealed anew.

But as we meet to remember that night we are called to remain in this night here and now, to allow that story to affect our story, to allow that truth to lead us into the truth of the meaning of our own lives.

As Meister Eckhardt a Christian Mystic of medieval times said

Here in time we celebrate the eternal birth that God the Father bore and still bears constantly in eternity, and which is also now born in time, in human nature. St. Augustine says that this birth is happening continually. We should ask ourselves: If it doesn’t happen in me, what good is that birth after all? What ultimately matters is that God’s birth should happen in me. 
We are all called to be Mothers of God
Mary’s story should become our story, we are all called to be Mothers of God to give birth to the Divine through our faith, hope and love.

I love Luke’s gospel because it tells us so much of Mary’s story. And we should read it as our story too - a story for each of us as God calls us to give birth to God’s vision for the world in our faith, our hope and our love.

Can we welcome as messengers of God’s hope strangers who speak to us of God? Mary welcomed the shepherds to the side of the manger, can we listen as she listened to their message and as the gospel says ‘treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart’? Can we also find God speaking to us in those unknown to us, who surprise us in their ability to speak of God? Can we allow them to become to us bearers of God’s word?

As Elizabeth embraced Mary and supported her in recognising the message of hope she carried for the world, can we embrace one another - be Elizabeth to each other’s Mary - can we be stirred in the depths of our hearts to be excited by the faith, hope and love of another and encourage them as they tentatively begin to recognise that they have a calling to birth God’s faith, hope and love into the world? 

As the Angel comes to Mary at the annunciation - the Angel comes to us, calling us in this time and in this place to carry the hope of God in the depths of our being - to nurture fragile faith, to give ourselves to feeding hope and raising a vision of love in what can sometimes seem impossible circumstances. 

In a world where faith, hope and love often look defeated and useless we are called to dare to take the risk as Mary in her embracing of her call took the risk; as a young Jew in a remote outpost of empire, facing the scorn and violence of a Roman authority confident
in its worship of power and wealth and dismissive of the beautiful vision of her people. She held onto that vision of a God of faithfulness, hope and love - the God of Abraham and Sarah, the God of the One Mary raised , the God of the One we follow, Jesus of Nazareth whom we proclaim as God's Annointed One. 

As she put her hope in that God so are we called in our time despite the world’s scorn to join in daring to hope in the One God of faith hope and love.

Can we believe that in the backwaters of our lives our faith can really make a difference? Can we let God come to us in Jesus in what may seem to us all our insignificance? Can we hear the Angel as we are given our commission, to be people of the way and to give birth in our world to the truth of God's love and beauty?

O holy Child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

Sermon preached at St Paul's Balsall Heath Birmingham Midnight Mass 2011


Cadellin said...

I'm accustomed to being likened to a midwife, but thank you for the image of being a Mother of God.


Cadellin said...

I'm accustomed to being likened to a midwife, but thank you for the image of being a Mother of God.