© Jeremy D. Nickel 2010. All Rights Reserved.
Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
December 24, 2010
Listen to Audio Version of Whole Service (mp3)
Listen to Audio Version of Sermon (mp3)
Reading: Christmas Eve by Ken Nye
Youtube Video: A Modern Christmas Story
Reading: A Postmodern Christmas Story by Bryan Stone
Once upon a time, up in the celestial cloud fortress of Heaven, everything was not all right. I wasn't sure at first what was going on, but I noticed that my fellow Angels were scurrying all over the place with a quite unnatural look of terror on their faces. And then, somewhere off behind a wall of clouds, voices were raised.
"What do you mean wrong manger?!?! How is that possible? How, Gabriel, after all this planning could you possibly mess this up? How could one Angel mess up something that had been planned before time itself?!?!"
Shortly thereafter, the rumors began to fly fast and furious, and as I am sure you know, if there is anything Angels like to do, it's gossip. It took about two minutes for the details to make it by word of mouth to the office ambrosia dispenser we all gathered around when the scent of gossip was in the air. And this gossip was as rich as it came. Gabriel, the big boss' favorite, had messed up big time. The great and all-knowing that encompasses all that is and is without form didn't see this one coming. Free will they were calling it and, wow, this was a doozy.
Today was the big day, the big reveal, after all the hard work and planning, the day the baby would be born on earth, the one they would call Messiah. And now, at the last minute, it turned out that Gabriel had led everyone to the wrong place. Nathan and Rebecca of Magdalena were welcoming their daughter Mary, the intended Messiah, in a manger about one hundred yards from the manger Gabriel had sent everyone to.
And now, events that had been set in motion for longer than time can explain were unfolding in a manner that no one had expected. The wise men had arrived and were bestowing gifts of frankincense and myrrh, bars of gold, and beautiful fabrics on some kid named Jesus.
And that is when the hair on the back of my head stood up straight. It took me all of my energy to stay outwardly calm as I hurried back to my desk. Jesus, did they say Jesus?!?! You see, we Angels all have kids to watch out for. I mean, that is after all primarily what we Angels do. We hang around and try to help nudge you towards the beauty whenever we can. And I had just had a new kid delivered today. And his name was Jesus.
About the same moment my Angel butt floated down into my chair, my supervisor arrived at my desk and she was doing a very bad job of containing her nervousness. "You're needed around the big table. Now," she managed to get out of her mouth before nodding to me awkwardly and retreating to her office.
At that point I figured I had nothing to lose, it wasn't my fault they had anointed the wrong Messiah, plus I was admittedly intrigued to find out how this was going to play out.
When I got to the big table they were all there waiting for me, and I assumed the big boss was there too. "Tell us what you know about this child Jesus?" they asked me.
"Well, I can tell you that he comes from a great family. His father Joseph is a very hard worker and a skilled craftsman, just helped finish a beautiful temple. Oh, and the mother is just an incredible woman. Loves this kid already, very devoted to him. You know, typical proud mom, telling everyone and anyone who will listen that her baby is going to be someone special, sees the signs everywhere. I mean, you talk about a mom who won't be surprised when wise men toting gifts show up to greet her newborn, its this woman Mary. She is going to be a great mom. About Jesus himself, I mean, I can't really say. Kind of funny looking baby, and he's got that weird rash thing going on, you know, that human babies have a lot, but I don't know, doesn't seem to cry much."
It was obvious that I wasn't telling them what they needed to hear, so I shut up. But what did they want from me, the kid was like four hours old? After a painfully long period of what I wrongly assumed was silence, I blurted out "So, what happens now? Should I go and break the bad news to the family? Is Gabriel going to figure out a way to fix this? Lure the wise men over to the baby Mary's manger, or what?"
It was then that I heard the laughter everyone else at the table was already aware of. Well, heard isn't quite right because it wasn't a sound in my ears but in my mind - I sensed the laughter within. A few Angels had tried to describe it to me before and, trust me, it's impossible. But, after the laughter, I shared my thoughts with All That Is for a few minutes. It was incredible, and so was the plan it revealed to me.
Anyway, later I was back at my cloud, breathing deeply and trying to process all that had happened. And, well of course you know what happened next. We did nothing. We let things play out as they were, based on this fascinating theory the Is had, that any kid could change the world if they were encouraged. Jesus certainly had an encouraging start, the supportive family, and treasure from around the world. And all kinds of signs were now being reported, because you know how these Messiah things take on a life of their own once they get started.
And it worked out - well, I guess it is up to you to decide that. But needless to say, Jesus certainly wasn't slowed down one bit by the fact that he wasn't actually, technically, supposed to be the Messiah. And your history does an awful job recording it, but the intended Messiah, Mary of Magdalena, had a pretty incredible life herself, and was responsible for at least half of what Jesus is credited with. But that is a story for another day.
So, what is the point? Why am I finally telling this story after all of these years? Because I think you all need to be reminded that every night a child is born is a holy night, and that it is not through miracles that we change the world, but through the real, everyday, hard work of flesh-and-blood people. And that all an adult is - a grown-up kid. That beauty and promise that comes into the world as a blessing every time a child is born is still inside of each and every one of you. You can change the world. Today, tomorrow, and forever more.
May it be so. Ashe.
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