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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Christmas 2, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
January 3, 2021

John 1:10-18, (1-9)

‘Welcoming the Child Jesus into the world that God loves’

The birth of a child is a joyful occasion in the life of a family and community.  We celebrate as a family grows and extends itself to embrace a new member. We enjoy the anticipation of discovering this new little person and what they will bring to the world. We celebrate a baby’s arrival with gifts, parties, special expressions of love and care. Many of us have welcomed a child this year - or in years past - and we remember the joy this event brings.

Many people welcome the birth of Jesus with similar celebrations in family and community: with gifts, parties, shared meals, holidays, and reaching out to loved ones who are both near and far away. For many this year these activities have been disrupted and the distance between loved ones is magnified. Plans have had to change, holidays cancelled or postponed, family gatherings relocated or cancelled. (The sadness of these disruptions is not to be glossed over, but at the same time, cannot be compared to the serious, ongoing vulnerability that many in our world already experience, which has only been magnified by COVID19).

Our experiences of disruption, dislocation and vulnerability this Christmas may bring us closer to the context in which Mary and Joseph welcomed their child. Jesus was an unplanned child of questionable paternity, born to an unmarried couple. The timing of Mary’s pregnancy could not have been worse. Imagine having to make a journey not chosen by you, but mandated by civil authorities, perched on the back of a donkey with a child about to be born. Giving birth in a stable in a strange town, surrounded by animals instead of supported by the wise women of your community, and visited by strangers instead of family and friends. And, even after his safe arrival, to know that your child had been born into a world that would not be a safe place for him (Matthew 2:13-18).  

But the birth of this child Jesus also was utterly planned, initiated by God and motivated by God’s love for the whole world. This is evident in our gospel text this morning.

This child Jesus is The Word of God, who was from the very beginning, with God, and who was Godself. Jesus is close to God’s heart, and embodies Godself entirely. Jesus is also deeply involved in and present in the world - he is not detached and distant from it, but is actually how the world came to be created: “he was in the world and the world came into being through him” (v 10).

Jesus is eternal love and light, and embodies that light and love to the world that God loves.  Jesus is the Word made flesh: God living as a human being, experiencing the vulnerability of being limited and subject to disruption, dislocation and mortality.

And doing all of this because of love.
Being all of this because of love.

God, becoming human and making a home in the world because God is light and life, and because God loves the world that God made (John 3:16).

None of this is to minimise the difficulty of life: in fact, the opposite.  Jesus, in the very circumstances of his birth and from that moment of birth, experienced disruption, dislocation, vulnerability - the marks of humanity. Jesus, the unplanned child of a vulnerable couple separated from home and family, is also the planned, embraced and loved child of God. He came to the world that God made, to be at home with us here. The world that is our home - which, in these days, is stretched and torn and weary and disintegrated - is also the world that God loves.

May we today, and in the days to come, continue to celebrate the arrival of the child Jesus in this world. May we celebrate the humanity that he shares with us. And may we remember and celebrate the eternal, close, intentional love of God that sent Jesus into this world. Because God is light and life and love.

Allison Forrest

Homily by Allison Forrest