This homily was given on a music Sunday, so there were no readings. Given December 7th as part of this congregation’s yearly Christmas celebration.
Waiting for the Baby
One day, I was walking around in the park, just going for a normal stroll on a normal day…until my phone rang and my life was forever changed. I looked at my phone it said Arthur, my older brother. I answered it, and he said Hey Rose, and then he said, “Janna’s pregnant.” And I just stopped right where I was in that park, and understood that from that point, until the baby was born, I would waiting for that baby to be born.
We are now in the season of advent, which, in the Christian calendar, is also time of waiting for the baby. But for Christians, it’s not just any birth that they’re celebrating, it’s the birth of their God. And one of the most beautiful things about Christianity is that their God is birthable, because their God is human. In Judaism and Islam, God has no likeness to humanity, but in Christianity, God took on human form. For a Christian, this means that their God is in the human body. And their God knows about painful and beautiful it is to live a human life.
And this is not so foreign to us, because if we were to use the word God, we would locate God in humanity. We would say that God in the human form makes sense. We would say that our bodies are sacred. And we see in divinity in our painful and beautiful lives. So for us, this Christmas story about birth of a redeemer, is the story of all babies being born. Because for us, all people are redeemers and the birth of any person is so unbelievable that it could drive us to our knees.
As Christians wait for the birth of their God, as we honor the birth of all babies, the entire earth is waiting to be reborn come spring. And this is the natural cycle. This is the midnight of the year. Even the animals and fish are still, they are resting up to begin anew come spring, with their eyes squinting in the brightness.
But for now, we have to wait. It’s not time yet. It is in the midnight hour that we get in touch with the light. Because this is a spacious, important time, when the mind stills, when our anticipation builds, and our imagination expands. Now is the time to be awake in the depth midnight..setting intentions, as we wait to be called out into this world by the light.
It was in the waiting that I was able to set my intentions as an aunt. It was in the waiting that I had the space to dream about a life with her, to imagine all the ways that my light could call her out into this world.
And oh, man, I waited so long for my niece to be born. Her due date was January 5th, so last year this time, I knew that she was coming. I went to my parents house for Christmas, and we all waited together. Christmas came and went: the 28th, January 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th. And in the darkness of the night of January 4th, my mom came into my room, and said, “there’s something that I would like to share with you in the kitchen”…and my heart leapt. I thought, we’re all going to gather together in a communal space to try on together the new knowledge that a baby has been born.
I ran down stairs, and there my was my mom, in the kitchen, waiting expectantly for me. And she said, “Rose, I’ve called you down here because I wanted to show you how I sprout the mung beans by pouring water over them in this special siv.” And I remember thinking, “What?! don’t you know I’m in a fragile state in which waiting for the baby takes all my strength?” I was waiting so hard for that baby, that every movement was news of labor. But, she unknowingly wanted me to see another birth. The birth of the mung beans as they reached for the light.
We finally got the call on, January 5th, that she was in labor. And then, a day later, a photo of my niece on my brother’s chest, all red and squishy, but alive and breathing, her eyes squinting at the brightness. My mom and dad and I gathered around the phone, like the animals and shepherds that gathered around Jesus’ cradle, and we listened to my brother’s account of what she was like. And all that we had anticipated was realized.
This is how it will be for us in the spring. But now is a time for us to imagine what we want to birth come spring. Now is a time to set intentions, to lay awake in the midnight hours and dream about a life we want to live, to imagine all the ways that the light could call us out into the world.