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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Christmas Day, Year C
South Sydney Uniting Church
December 25, 2018

Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-12; John 1:1-14


‘A Word to bear, hold, sing, kiss, eat’

What are we to imagine today? According to our readings, Christmas has to do with loyalty, with just, merciful and wonderful deeds, with good news for the Earth (Psalm 98); Christmas has to do with freedom from captivity/oppression (Isaiah 52:7-10); Christmas has to do with freedom for minds and bodies (Hebrews 1:1-12) … God be with you …

The reading from John 1 is the traditional gospel for Christmas Day. The evangelist rewrites/reworks Genesis 1, which imagines God as Poet of Creation, to say that the Word, the creative Word – if only we can hear this Word of creativity, this poetic Word of words – is made flesh.

(The poet Stéphane Mallarmé dreamed of a poem comprising just one word. I wonder which word he had in mind … Which word comes to mind for you? Goodness, mercy, beauty, freedom, hope, peace, joy, love …?)

The Word made flesh, according to John, is the Truly Human One and also the Obstacle – the One despised and tortured; objectified, discounted, abstracted, spiritualised …

The Word is not an idea, says John, not something “spiritual” behind or beyond the world, but something embodied, something/someone vulnerable. A Word to bear, hold, sing, kiss, eat.

If only we can hear and receive it … My favourite carol includes the lines: “No ear may hear his coming/ But in this world of sin/ Where meek souls will receive him/ Still the dear Christ enters in …”

If only we can hear and receive it … perhaps reading between the lines of holy writings, allowing host and guest texts, all manner of texts, to exchange riches and roles, listening deeply to one another and to sacred country (dadirri), chancing a word of our own (the risk of blasphemy is a faithful and orthodox risk) … we too might (again) experience holy embodiment – the enchantment and enlargement of ourselves; the church as a body; tradition, language, culture, community, the world as various modes of embodied presence …

What are we to imagine today? By what means of seeing, being and doing?

We are invited to imagine Creation itself as the kin(g)dom of heaven – a realm of love re-appearing, reborn. The world itself as Nativity. The world as flesh, made up of spoken and unspoken words, promises, cries of distress and desire … This place and time as the stable of Bethlehem, the Earth’s own welcome and sanctuary, where angelic beings invite human beings to make space, to make peace.

We pray for one another (the living and the dead). We pray our way to God and to one another. The Word made flesh and the flesh made word … We make our prayers, stumbling over words, stammering … about climate change and justice for those most at risk of rising sea levels and extreme weather events … about gender equity and marriage equality … about hospitality for refugees … about Reconciliation, Makarrata, Treaty …

The kin(g)dom of heaven is the meeting place, or better, the crossing place of guest and host, friend and stranger, humankind and other-kind, mortality and natality, word and flesh.

What are we to imagine today? The creative Word as word of invitation. Come! Gawi! The trembling Word – yes, and again yes. God’s yes to the world. Mary’s yes to the angel-stranger. Our yes in response. The Word repeated. Perhaps … goodness abounds. Yes, yes. Perhaps … mission is dialogue between cultures. Yes … yes. The Word is Diversity. Yes … yes. The Word is Us.

“The world and I are within one another,” said Maurice Merleau-Ponty. “I am the bread of life,” said Jesus according to a text many times written, translated, performed, calling friends to embody with him a nurturing and nourishing love for the world. The enchantment and re-enchantment of the world as God’s body.

I feel this invitation to imagination today. Amen.

Let us bring our prayers for the world, our gold “gift cards” to the Christ-child. What gift might you bring? [Children to lead …]

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