Sermon Text: A Really Real Baby
Christmas is great...but...
...some of the Christmas songs don't make sense.
Okay, here we are, baptizing twins today. That's just so cool. But there are twins in my family, and I know it's not easy. Parents of twins do not get naps on a regular basis. So there's that one Christmas song that's so weird...It's the one where the little kid shows up at the manger and he has a DRUM!
And he asks Mary if he can play for the baby. And she nods. Really? Does anyone really think playing a drum solo for a sleeping newborn is a good idea? I'm a parent and a grandparent, and I don't think so. Little drummer boy, please go play somewhere else.
And there's another song. I like it, but I don't believe it. "Away in a manger, no crib for his bed..." The first verse is okay.
But the second verse says, "The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes. But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes." Really? Most real babies I know would cry if they get awakened. And Jesus was a real baby. That's the whole point of the story.
This is God bending down to humanity. This is divinity in diapers. This is the Creator in a crib. It's crazy, it's scandalous, it's unbelievable. And it's what Christianity is all about. It's what Christmas is all about.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." That's how the Gospel of John puts it, and we always read that text on the first Sunday after Christmas.
Jesus was a real baby, and Jesus was also God come to earth. He wasn't a baby who never cried. He was a real baby. God comes down to us right in the chaos and mess and pain of human life.
God is with us in all of it...the good, the bad, the ugly.
God is with us in all of it...the pain and the pleasure.
God is with us in all of it...the happiness and the heartache.
And God became one of us so that we could become more like God. We are joined to Christ in the waters of baptism. God became human so that humans could become divine. This is what Christianity has taught for 2000 years, and we still don't get it. Maybe we still don't believe it.
Christmas is the celebration of the Word made flesh, God as one of us.
Christianity is the proclamation of the Word made flesh, God as one of us.
The Gospel is about the Word made flesh, God as one of us.
God became human so that humans could become divine.
So the way you treat other people is how you would treat God. Believe it or not, that's what Jesus taught. And it's part of what baptism is about. The Baptismal Covenant, a collection of promises we make in baptism, asks us this: "Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?" In other words, the Christ Child is hidden in every other human being, and our care about the Christ Child should translate into care for every human being we meet.
When I was a kid, we had a manger scene in our living room. My mom taught me something with that creche scene. If I did something especially kind, especially nice, I was allowed to put a piece of straw in the manger. The more kind things I did, the softer I would make the bed for the baby Jesus.
It was a simple little lesson, but I always remembered it. She taught me that they way I treat other people is a gift I can give to God. That's a pretty great message to give to a little kid...or a grownup, for that matter.
God became human so that human beings could become divine. You and I are destined for divinity. And the respect we give to other human beings is the respect we give to God.
Maybe people don't listen to the words of the Christmas songs as closely as I do...I don't know. But I do know the words we sing at Christmas can give us joy all year long.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!