Babies cause us to look at the world differently. We go from being self centered to other centered. We become protective, sometimes fearful, and almost always joyful; let me tell you, you’ve never lived until you’re asked to share a slightly damp graham cracker from an adoring toddler.
Not that taking care of babies is all smiles and fun. When babies get sick it can be incredibly frightening; fussy babies can make us tired; there’s always something happening that makes us change our usual reactions and plans, because again, we have to think about someone else, and that commitment lasts our whole lives. Babies change everything about who we are.
On this holiest of nights, you and I and the whole world is changed by the birth of one child; Jesus, the son of Mary. And, like all births, there is much to be done.
On this night, God has given to us a son. In the birth of Jesus all the earth is made new. In his birth, God and humanity have been joined together in a new way. God has fulfilled the promise that we are his people. God has formed a covenant based on love and the gift of life. Because of this holy birth, you and I have become adopted children of the living God; in the life of Jesus, God lives as one of us and there is nowhere that we can go where God is not. In the life of this child, God will be with us in our joy and in our sorrow; because of this child,we will be forgiven our sins and given eternal life, in the life of this child, God will make it so that death can never have the last word, because this child shall be resurrected from the dead and shall destroy death once and for all.
There are present day implications for us as well, meaning that affects us right here, right now. If all people are adopted children of God then we have to live our lives as if that were true. We need to be able to look at each other and see ourselves the way God sees us. I once had a professor that said that when God looks at us, what he sees is Jesus. What love there must be for the Father to see his beloved son in each of us. And on this night, that beloved son is an infant who has given himself into our care. Imagine God the Father trusting us enough to give his son into our hands. Imagine God giving us this child when God knows how horribly we will mess it up. For the gift of love and eternal life, we paid back with cruelty and death, and yet, God still loves; Jesus still unites us to the Father as children; the Spirit is still our guiding force. It is such a loving thing to trust us with this holy child. When we look at each other, we should get at least a glimpse of him in each other’s faces. If we could manage that, how on earth could we ever act in ways that are harmful toward another?
How do we approach the world if we are all images of this holy one? We have to take our cue from him. If we believe that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, then everything changes; the kingdom of God has come to earth and as his beloved followers it is now our responsibility to continue to build up the kingdom. to keep doing his work. That’s what he asked us to do; to love as he loved; to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and imprisoned, to make sure that all of his people, all of them would hear the good news of his coming to earth.
On this night, may we with shepherds and angels sing. Emmanuel, God with us has come into the world, and everything, absolutely everything has changed, the kingdom of God has come, and we are God’s own beloved forever. Go forth from this place beloved, glorifying and praising God for all that you have heard and seen. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!