Grace and peace to you from God, Our Creator and from His Son, Jesus Christ Our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Nothing seems to be the same when God enters into our lives, creating Holy Chaos. Stepping out on faith becomes a high wire act, where we repeatedly ask God “Exactly why are you asking this of me?”
We tend to be childlike in our faith when faced with an impossible task or exposing ourselves to scrutiny and humility by others.
We shrink back into the billowing folds of comfort in God, Our Father and Our Mother, remaining doubtful and hidden.
We seemingly wish not to be jarred into an unsure reality when our footsteps are planted sure, in step and in rhythm, one after the other.
What happens then, when the steady rhythm of life is interrupted mixing up our journey
especially when the Holy Spirit catches us off guard and yanking us off from the safest route,
where we avoid all troubles, catastrophes
and appear uniformed to the rest of this world.
Are we as children of God open to the uncomfortable spotlight and opening ourselves to take that first unsteady graceful leap:
opening within our very being to lift out that first, unsteady musical note;
opening our hands in taking that first risky step towards solidarity:
with those who have been left on the streets,
in that hospital room,
in that nursing home or
even right here sitting in a pew?
And in those moments when we are sitting or standing aloof and alone, it is then the Creator gets our attention, catching us off guard to where we could look foolish; it is here God takes a risk by cupping us in His hands and catapulting us out into the great unknown, whether it be through the whispers of the trees or the showers of the heavens. It was under those same night skies that my life was thrown into turmoil.
August seems to be the month of transitions, of being faced with chapters that close behind us and life’s highway evolving and opening before us. It was that August of leaving the summer camp I’d worked at and embarking on a new position in familiar surroundings that my heart was so excited for. It had felt indeed, that I had ran and leap off the highest cliff into welcoming, warm waters below me; refreshing my spirit after wandering in the wilderness. That night I would have the opportunity to experience my first meteor shower and so I stepped out onto the deck of the Administration building and raised my head upwards to the stars. I can only express that in that moment God was holding my hands, overwhelming my entire being; in that moment I experienced the freedom to raise my voice to the stillness of the night, pouring myself out at the Creator’s feet, rambling as my tears were tripping me up.
“Am I supposed to go to Seminary?
Am I supposed to actually become a pastor?
Is that what you want me to do?
Is this my purpose?”
In that moment of quietness, the skies suddenly erupted in showers of light and life and in that moment I knew the Creator God had answered. Life, as I thought I knew it was set on a steady course with a predictable outcome.
But even as the sun rolled and curled over the horizon the next morning, there was nothing simple about this journey that God had placed me; it only peeled back layer after layer of my awareness of how truly ugly in its nakedness this world was:
People who turned away from God and rudely shoved those who ran to God
People who had turned their backs and their hearts from the cries of others clamoring to survive in quicksand of violence, of homelessness, of depression, of emptiness, of abuse and of fear
People whom we have to journey to the cross with, even when we are not able to see past the crimes which were stitched into their very skin
People and situations in which we are called to place ourselves alongside and with, stepping outside the crystal bubble, taking a risk of not aligning ourselves with everything sugar coated as acceptable and popular.
Situations birthed from the uncomfortable, in where we may have to swallowing our own pride and instead leaning, trusting on God’s direction.
That seems to be what Joseph is struggling and wrestling with in our Gospel text this morning, right? Joseph was faced with appearing foolish in forgetting his righteousness and his right as an honorable man of God to be selfish when this situation was not the norm. We are not privy to what Joseph could have thought or said; whether he was bewildered or angry with Mary hearing her news.
We are not privy to the murmurings in the streets as Joseph passed his fellow brothers and sisters in Faith by.
Can we image Joseph pacing back in forth in his little crude but clean and humble home?
God, couldn’t you just have given me a warning?
God this is not acceptable-I’m being laughed at in the streets;
I’m being pressured to discard the woman I love;
I’m mortified and confused at the direction I should go.
I’m being asked to abandon;
Are you, My God asking me to risk?
What risks has God, Our Healer asked of us? What reality has God exposed to our vision and our gaze? How has God interrupted our lives and provoked us to step out on faith?
Dealing with situations where we are struggling to make sense of how life’s little weeds and thorns suddenly find themselves burrowed in our fragile skin is a risk;
Taking on tasks that stretch us beyond what we think we are capable of and are dumped into our laps is a risk;
Opening wide these doors to those who are not familiar to us and shatter what we thought was normal is a risk;
Opening ourselves to being in close relationship and close contact with those who have been stigmatized by society whether through disease, through mental illness, through where they came from and what they represent is a risk.
Opening up our own selves and hearing what God has in store for our own lives is indeed a risk.
Exposing our vulnerability to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in a direction toward God, Our Creator so that grace and mercy can be ushered in, knitted and weaved into the very fabric of our being is indeed a risk, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Opening and allowing the Good News of Jesus Christ in our lives can be, especially in this day and age, a risk.
And yet, that is the Good News, beloved!
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”
God is with us!
God took a risk and sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be cradled in the womb of a mere woman of Mary and to be loved as if He was his own son, by Joseph. The Good News of Jesus Christ is that the Kingdom of God was not ushered in by force and destruction but through the unexpected and mysterious beauty of birth into this world, because God, Our Protector loved us as His Creation and wanted us to realize that God is not absent but the Loving Parent who is present through our struggles and sufferings; who lifts us up from the lowly places, washes our tear stained face and tells us that we are loved. That is what the Good News of Jesus Christ speaks to us today, my brothers and sisters in Christ-through the power of the Holy Spirit love, mercy and grace were ushered, born into this world encompassed in the tiny beating heart of a babe, that flooded our hearts and souls with the sharing of God’s unconditional Love for us, not just for some or a few but for ALL of US. We are ALL CONNECTED through the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus Christ at the Table, through the waters, here on the Cross from our creation into eternal life.
Joseph was a child of God but he was also human, and so he struggled. But when he heard the Good News, he was willing to take that risk! And so because we are children of God and we hear that same Good News, we too, have the freedom to take risks!
Taking risks by picking up the phone or knocking on the door to repair a broken relationship
Taking risks by pausing in our daily chaotic lives to conversation and a cup of coffee with a homeless youth
Taking risks by opening one’s home to those who are alone, especially in this holiday season
Taking risks by opening oneself to those who cannot see God’s mercy, love and grace through Jesus’s commandment that we are to love one another as God loves us all.
Taking a risk to be vulnerable to the Holy Spirit when She calls, to be open to what God places in our fragile hands.
Life would be much simpler only if God would knock on our front door, ring our doorbell and give us His sales pitch with no risks attached right? We would be willing then to leave everything behind us and follow Jesus Christ because we would know the risks involved and the holy chaos to follow. But the Good News is that even in all of life’s risks, God Our Healer and Redeemer is right there as we hesitate at the top of the cliff even with the breathtaking view before and surrounding us; even as we curve ourselves into the fierceness of the winds God is right there, cradling us with the Holy Spirit and saying, “I am here, I am always here. Follow me.”
Thanks Be To God