Born

Christmas Day Light (photo by Martin Malina, 2021)
sermon audio “Born” by Martin Malina

“To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”[1]

It had to take me reading the Christmas birth story from Matthew and Luke again this year to recall how it was when my children were born.

I had forgotten, now some 18 years ago, how anxious, fearful and disruptive the whole birthing experience was—more for Jessica than for me: The anticipation, then all the things that didn’t go according to plan while in the hospital, not to mention the physical pain and uncertainty surrounding the whole event. I’d forgotten how it was.

Bodies are messy. Birth is messy. 

Unpredictable, dangerous even. If we imagine Mary as only docile and sweet—a virgin—will we forget over two thousand years later Mary’s own sexuality and the real physical pain of bringing a baby into the world? 

Will we forget that Mary was a real woman, and Jesus a real baby who grew to be a real man? That both were flesh and blood, both had real bodies? Will we forget that a woman’s body was torn open by a baby forcing its way into the world, a hungry, crying, and helpless infant body to feed, wash, and warm?

I hope not. Diana Butler Bass asserts in her recent book, Freeing Jesus, that:

“Eventually, the mystery of God’s glory runs smack into the muck of human bodies; the divine Word became flesh from the same dust and spittle that made us all. Mary’s body brought forth the tiny body of God; Her water breaking and the bloody birth made possible the water and blood of the cross some thirty years later.

“‘To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’ We emphasize ‘Savior,’ ‘Messiah,’ and ‘Lord,’ but forget the most amazing word in the angelic proclamation: ‘born.’”[2]

The divine is hidden quietly inside the human. The holy is hidden in the physical and the material. And if in the human of two thousand years ago, God is not finished with us today. If in the material and physical of two thousand years ago, God is not finished with this physical and material world today. 

All is not lost. There is someone, somewhere. There is God whom you will find not in some otherworldly, cerebral, abstract sense. But born on earth. Here and now. Accessible to you, in the flesh. A people. Someone. Somewhere.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that God is missing in all the disruption and anxiety and fear surrounding this COVID Christmas time. Perhaps the problem is our expectations, and where we will look to find Jesus born anew in our time and place. Because God is Emmanuel. God is with us.

We have every reason to live in hope and trust and confidence.

Merry Christmas.


[1] Luke 2:11

[2] Cited in her blog, The Cottage (www.dianabutlerbass.com, 20 December 2021)

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