“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness–
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Tonight we hear beautiful words from the Prophet Isaiah that reach through time and space to greet us this night, and be fulfilled here and now… Our Advent wait is over dear church; the one for whom we have waited has come into the world… and God, in God’s infinite, and sometimes mind boggling wisdom has seen fit to come into the world as one of us; as a child…. We have been given the gift of a son, a holy child who shall change absolutely everything… babies do that…. They change things… they change the way we sleep, the way we make priorities. They change US… they change everything about who we are… and so this baby comes tonight to change things, to change absolutely everything… this baby comes as God in the flesh to cause a revolution… on a dark night, surrounded by animals… a king is born into the world; born into the messiness of our lives just as surely as he was born into the messiness of first century Palestine… After all, there really isn’t a good time for a baby to come, is there? There is always more that can be done to prepare; we always think if we had more time… maybe we could do it better at some other time and place… but it is not us who choose his coming…. God chooses it… and this is the perfect time, the best time, because it is God’s time, even though it appears as though God really doesn’t seem to have the timing thing down any better than any of the rest of us…. God’s timing was so bad, that there wasn’t anywhere for this humble little family to go… but yet, just like any other baby, this one comes, whether we are ready or not, breaking into a world that often will misunderstand him and his reasons for coming… and as always, when it is God’s time, it is a perfect time …

But tonight, despite what will one day come to him, tonight at least, there is peace… Hope and love and peace have been born in the flesh as this child. The God of Love has given Godself in the form of a son… a child who needs to be fed and cared for… a child who will crave attention and love… kind of a crazy way to get a point across don’t you think? God risked everything to be born this night… and whether we are ready or not, no matter what we think of the timing, he is here… and we need him; we need him as much as he needs us. We desperately need to experience and live into the changes this child shall create in us… but they won’t be easy. This baby, like all babies, will demand these changes with every movement and sound he makes… tonight we turn our hearts into the hearts of people who want to give this baby everything… we will be wrapped around his little finger, and with any luck, we will do his bidding… it’s hard to imagine that this birth brings with it such change and such a peace revolution , but it does; this birth asks us to love when it seems impossible to do so… this baby asks us to put down our weapons, and work for peace with our neighbors and with our world; this baby asks us to put aside our fears so that we can do what is truly right, rather than what is safe… and that is how we care for this infant… by caring for others around us; by doing what is right rather than what is safe or expected… having this baby to care for means that everything is different… It means that we are different….

It is hard to prepare, even though we have been waiting… and now the preparations are over, the holy child is here… may we open our hearts to the child who has brought love and hope and peace into the world. May we each be able to change and become the caregivers that God has asked us to be… tonight, may there be joy, hope, love and peace on God’s earth…

I leave you with the words of Ann Weems and her poem, “Holding”

The Day is here, and we made it to Bethlehem! The time has come for kneeling and we’ve seen the Child! There is singing in the stable and we want desperately to hold on to it… hold on to the Star and the Angels! And the Spirit of Love! How do we hold on to the Christmas spirit? Why can’t every Day be Christmas? The world mutters, “be realistic,” and sometimes we church people mutter too. On our way back from Bethlehem sometimes we forget what we’ve been warned about in a dream: to return another way. Once we’ve seen the Child, we’re left holding hearts wherein angels dance and stars sing! Once we’ve been to Bethlehem, every day is Christmas! — Ann Weems, “Holding” from Kneeling in Bethlehem, poetry for Advent and Christmas.