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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Christmas Day, Year B
The Baptism of Douglas Sidney Cunningham
and Sahara Jordan Moana Cunningham-Baker
South Sydney Uniting Church
December 25, 2011

John 1:1-14

The greatest miracle’

In all we say and sing this Christmas morning, what is the greatest miracle? The dancing star, the unbroken betrothal, the poor and holy family, the cross-cultural respect, the interspecies exchange, the virgin birth, the angelic choir? What is the miracle held within – carried within – but not contained by the Christmas Story?

John helps to focus the question. How is the Word or Wisdom of God made flesh among us? And how might this embodiment make us holy, make us godly, or in the words of the carol, “fit us for heaven”?

St Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373), somewhat provocatively,said: “God becomes human so humans can become god.” God wants to lift the curse of pride and sin and replace it with humility and virtue. The God made flesh invites us to follow:“Learn of me,” says Jesus,“for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

How might this embodiment make us holy, make us godly? The short answer is by way of love. While it’s not a crude matter of extracting the love from the shell of the Story, it is a matter of repeating and appropriating the Story lovingly, for love’s sake. It is a matter, even, of allowing the Story to carry us – to change us and to fit us for heaven on earth.

This morning we celebrate with the Cunninghams of Alexandria; we celebrate young lives united with Christ. Our celebration assumes water, oil and light, but also commitment to faithful relationships, to respect for country, culture and creation, to hospitality, and to what theologians and philosophers call the “impossible”.

Too often the baptismal rite becomes an act of dominance on the part of the church – recruitment, control, colonisation – rather than an act of trust in the Spirit of holiness. We don’t know the questions Sahara and Douglas will one day ask – of us or of our country. We don’t know the gifts they will offer. As of this day, however, we bind ourselves to them. Or better, we allow the God who is Love to bind us in Christ – our destinies shared.

Therein lies the good news, as always, our gift and our task. Our God becomes one of us, one with us, that we might be one – one colourful, musical, enquiring, reconciling family. It is good for us to be so bound, to become part of something bigger than our individual desires, preoccupations and regrets.

Our God becomes one of us, one with us, that we might be one – one colourful, musical, enquiring, doubting, seeking, learning, forgiving and reconciling family. Poor (open to love) and holy.A miracle. May it be so. Amen.