How the revolution comes

CHRISTMAS EVE: Grace Embodied, Part 5. (Go here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

There’s an old Jewish saying, “God couldn’t be everywhere, so God created mothers.”   I’m sure some of our mothers would balk at this while others might embrace it.  But it touches on something that is true, which is, we can’t experience love without someone to love us and someone to love.  And God, who is a relationship of love, came into this world as a human baby, to be loved by a human mother.

 When Mary said yes to the angel, this was scary and exciting and real and also little bit hypothetical. Sharing it with Elizabeth and Zechariah made it more real – joy needs to be shared. Remember how they all had a turn announcing the good news
It was cosmic good news – tyrants pulled from thrones, poor lifted up and rich sent away, ancient promises fulfilled, a mighty savior rescuing from enemies, a kingdom without end, light to all those in darkness, and guiding us into peace.  Heady stuff. Grand and marvelous stuff.  This is where her head was then.

And this is where the shepherds who come bursting into their little scene are too.  Their celestial vocalists gave them the vast view- Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace!  
She remembers this view. She was on board with this plan.

But now she is holding this tiny infant, her son. Now she is not the servant of the Lord joining in God’s plan for us all, she is this one baby’s mother. She has fed him from her body, she has stroked his soft cheek and looked into his eyes that look like her own mother’s eyes.  

And she loves him. Now she loves him. Now love has pulled her into this thing so deeply that she’s in over her head in love. She is inside the Trinity; between the Father and the Son stands only her.  And to know such love, to feel herself lost to such love, changes everything.  She didn’t know.  How could she know?  That she would want nothing more in the world than to protect this little one from pain and suffering? 

Just moments before, the transformation was complete that took her from enthusiastic teenager, swept up in the excitement of this cosmic revolution, to fierce mother, willing to do anything to protect her son from the darkness.

Only, he’s here to go into the darkness. He’s here to go right toward the pain and the suffering and bear it for us all. That is why he has come. And she agreed to this. She agreed but maybe didn’t know what it would mean, or chose not to think about that in these first maternal moments.

Until the shepherds remind her.  Until the little family’s reverie is shattered by their boisterous excitement with a clear message.  He’s for us all. He’s here to turn the world on end. He IS the light that no darkness can put out! 

God’s whole plan is so ludicrous. So dependent on weak people who are swayed by emotion, to follow through and do their part.  God’s whole plan is so ingenious, so dependent on people born from love and returning to love, to come back to love and participate in the salvation of all creation through love.  

Mary ponders these things. She treasures the words of the eager shepherds, who sound like how she felt not too long ago. She believes in this hope, with all her heart she did. Now her heart belongs to this baby.

They all thought God would come in with power and might, through strength and force. But God came with love.  Through love.  Weak and vulnerable, needy and dependent, tiny and helpless, and bound heart and soul to his mother. God came into the love of a mother for her baby. 

This is what the angels sing about. This is what we misunderstand. 
This is how the revolution comes.  In hidden and gentle ways and very tangible ways.  
There is nothing stronger than this.  No army can defeat a mother’s love for her child. No technology or weapon is stronger than the bond between true friends.  There is no Tsunami or demagogue or suffering of any kind that can stop love.  All over the world, through next door neighbors, and kindergarten teachers, and great uncles and little sisters, and strangers reaching out to help each other, the transformative power of love leaks between the cracks and spills over the edges and rises up between us with healing and tenderness, and even in the midst of terrible bondage, it sets us free.  Anyone who has lost a loved one can tell you not even death itself ends love. 

While nations rage and powers shake, in every place at every moment, love is breaking through, people are sitting with one another in their suffering, celebrating with each other in joy, listening, seeing, sacrificing, embracing, joining God right where God already is. God’s love is embodied. 
We are part of that love. This is God’s way.  This is how God came.  

God loves us beyond measure or comprehension. From love we came and to love we will return. Darkness doesn’t stand a chance.
This doesn’t make it feel any less like darkness.  But in that darkness, the light shines.  Because into that darkness God comes.

The carols we sing tonight are mostly triumphant and hopeful; they’re the infectious joy of the shepherds like new grandparents in the grocery line, telling all who will listen about the cosmic good news and how God is redeeming the world.  Tonight we are singing with the angels the hopeful big picture part of the story. And that part is real and true.

But how this happens in the world, and how it is real and true in our lives, is more often the small, close-up picture that’s messier, deeper and often hidden.   It’s in all the small acts of giving and receiving of love, the daily losing and the finding of ourselves, the coming in alongside someone like God did with us, it's how God does with us.  It’s when we’re pulled in over our head to something that doesn’t make sense, but is more real than everything else, a belonging to eternity and to other people, to ourselves, and to God.
It mostly feels more like the wordless part of the story, fit for treasuring and pondering but hard to put into words because it begins before words exist.  

God’s heart belongs to us. 
God came into this life to love and be loved. 
Our hearts belong to God. We exist to love and be loved.  
This is the light that no darkness can extinguish. 
May it shine through us.

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