The Rev. Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis
The last days of Advent and much of Christmas Eve feel like a holding of my priestly breath. By 10:30pm as we begin a quieter revere winding the night down to candle light, the church is like a slowly leaking balloon. Haven’t we all been waiting to exhale?
By this time on Christmas Eve the night consistently falls into that familiar state of thinness in which we are so very close to our maker.
Our attachments to this world fall off.
The waters of our worries have broken.
Unto us the bearer of truth and light has been born.
The air we breathe is compassion.
We sing and pray this night such as though the world might be healed through none of our own labor, but the faithfulness of a teenage woman and the immense courage of her son.
We need not work. We need only pray, breathe and be at rest this night in order that the world might be saved.
Tonight is the night when there is no disbelief. The improbable and the impossible vanish. Sheep are said to lie down with lions. Garments rolled in the blood of oppression will be burned as fuel for fire. Justice is upheld with righteousness, and we need only pray, breathe and be at rest in order that the world might be saved.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes: “…the only way we can make it…is together. We can be truly free..only together. We can be human only together.” It is true that we need each other, but tonight we need not strive toward one another, and instead meditate on the birth of a holy child in order that the world might be saved.
The letter of Titus reads: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works.” It is true that we need good works. Yet this hour, we are called to the waiting room of the loveliest of low places to receive the power of God born unto us that there be reason to want that the world might be saved.
The Jewish commandments say: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” It is true that we have responsibilities. But this night is considered the dawning of a sabbath in which the world shall rest from its labors such that the same world might be saved.
This night, for this hour, your children are at rest. Your cancer is in remission. Your light bill has been paid. For this hour there is no doubt or discomfort, and instead a recognition that in prayerful rest we experience a sort of salvation akin to a promise that without our own effort this world, our world, might be saved.
The emphasis on this night is no narrow pathway to the one true God, but rather an expansive universe and a God contained of everything that might be saved. Salvation knows not from sin. Salvation knows rather from love, peace, wholeness, repair, reparation, indwelling, Immanuel, God with us, God to save us not as Christians but as Creation.
May the Christ child be your beginning and a power that knows no end. For tonight belongs to all without effort that we might be saved.