The Wild Willingness of God | Christmas

/The Wild Willingness of God | Christmas

Welcome to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons.

December 23rd, 2018

This week I’ve got a short sermon to help inspire your Christmas celebrations. However you’re spending the holidays this year, I wish you joy and ease.

The Wild Willingness of God

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I’ve had a ever shifting relationship with the holiday of Christmas throughout my life—maybe we all have to some degree. But last year, just after Christmas was over actually, something strange happened for me. As I was decompressing from the activities of the holiday I was struck with wonder by the story of the holiday. I don’t mean the academic, theological version. And I don’t mean the particularly American version. I mean the version that just showed up in my mind and heart as I was taking down my Christmas lights. I was struck with wonder over the vulnerability of God in the story.

Now, if you’ve been on this journey of spiritual search with me for any amount of time, then you know that I deeply believe in God. And you know that I have no idea what that last sentence really means. I believe that God is real—that we all have that of God within us. But I also believe that God is utterly unknowable Mystery. This is the paradox of my spirituality. I believe both things—deep in my body I believe both things. But it’s this paradox of belief that leads to my love of scripture I think. I love to read the ancient stories of people trying to figure out who and what God is. And in the vast corpus of stories about God, Christmas is a doozy. It’s the story of incarnation—which is a word I absolutely adore. It means embodiment in flesh. We are all incarnation. But the story of Christmas tells of a unique incarnation. It’s the embodiment of God in flesh.

And this is the vulnerability that struck me. I know we see heaps of baby Jesus images this time of year, but I want to interrupt them. I want to turn toward the sheer wildness of the story. I mean why on earth would a supposedly all powerful God decide to incarnate as a helpless baby in a deeply impoverished family?

It’s an absolutely absurd choice. No one would make it. But the story isn’t designed to teach us about practicality. It’s a story we tell to remind ourselves that God is with us. And according to Mary—the mother of this unique incarnation—who said: “God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Christmas is also a story we tell in order to remind ourselves that God begs for an end to injustice. So much so that God made the absurd choice.

Christmas tells an absurd story. But it also tells an utterly human story. It describes something that happens everyday—the event of birth. But no matter how commonplace the event of birth may be, it’s always a wildly inspiring experience. Watching as new life arrives in the world gives one the sense of miracle. Of survival. Of hope. It gives us the sense that justice will prevail. The story of Christmas—the story of birth—the story of a unique incarnation—speaks of the wild willingness of God to take risk. Of the wild generosity of God to be vulnerable.

The Gospel of John says “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

We celebrate Christmas, the story of a birth that reminds us that God is with us, that reminds us that God begs for an end to injustice, as a reminder that the darkness will fade. That the Light will return.

So in closing I leave you with this blessing, from artist and minister Jan Richardson:

How the Light Comes

I cannot tell you
how the light comes.

What I know
is that it is more ancient
than imagining.

That it travels
across an astounding expanse
to reach us.

That it loves
searching out
what is hidden
what is lost
what is forgotten
or in peril
or in pain.

That it has a fondness
for the body
for finding its way
toward flesh
for tracing the edges
of form
for shining forth
through the eye,
the hand,
the heart.

I cannot tell you
how the light comes,
but that it does.
That it will.
That it works its way
into the deepest dark
that enfolds you,
though it may seem
long ages in coming
or arrive in a shape
you did not foresee.

And so
may we this day
turn ourselves toward it.
May we lift our faces
to let it find us.
May we bend our bodies
to follow the arc it makes.
May we open
and open more
and open still

to the blessed light
that comes.


REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  • As I shared in this week’s sermon the story of Christmas—the story of incarnation—is currently speaking to me of the wild willingness of God. Of the wild generosity of God. As I seek to learn from this story, the question becomes: What wild willingness am I being called to this season? What wild generosity is being asked of me? And can the story of Christmas inspire within me the courage to say yes?

  • What is the story of Christmas currently speaking to you? What are the questions it raises for you? What are the actions it calls you to? 


LET’S TALK!

We all benefit from the wisdom of spiritual community. And community means more than one voice, so please add yours to the conversation.

One Comment

  1. Chuck December 23, 2018 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Thanks, Summer. Even though I don’t pretend to have a religious bone in my body, I do enjoy reading or hearing what others are reflecting upon. A couple books I’ve read lately that you may already know about are Michael Pollen’s latest, How to Change Your Mind and Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. Both involve meditation, which I learned the TM ‘cheat sheet’ version back in college but really miss it. Now, short naps kind of do the same, but not in the way meditation is supposed to work, I know. I will get back to it soon. And here’s a thought I’ve had recently that could possibly turn into a short story some day – we know how evolution has placed humans where they are today, but what if in the way distant past, we were the AI that overthrew their creators? Best of holidays to you & Jeremy,
    Chuck

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