Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Vigil of the Nativity Midnight Mass and Baptism sermon by Mother Valori+

Sermon by Mother Valori+
Lectionary: Lectionary:Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Hallelujah! Hallelu – jah: Who knows what this means? It translates from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin as praise, joy, thanks – to God.

Hallelu = Praise, joy, and thanks
Jah = the first half of Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God

As we celebrate Christmas tonight, we sing out our Hallelujahs because when the Word became flesh,
and chose to be born just like we are born, Love came into the world in a whole new way – and transformed it – opening boundaries, welcoming into loving relationship all whom the world feels justified in keeping out.

Today, Love comes again, this time into our hearts, our bodies, our thoughts, and our lives
in a whole new way - and transforms us if we give our consent as Mary did; if we seek the Savior as the Shepherds did.

There are discussions in religious circles about the change that love brings. When a person is baptized, or confirmed, or ordained is there a real change in that person, or is it a symbolic change?

I don’t know the definitive answer. What I do know is what my experience has been about my own Christian journey and the journeys I’ve shared as priest, pastor, and friend. Whenever I talk with people about this change – the change that Love brings - I hear that there is something real, something actually felt by the person. They know it in their bodies, not just as an idea.

So tonight as we journey with one of our own beloved friends to the waters of Baptism, let’s see for ourselves. If we open ourselves to the movement of the Spirit – will we feel the change that Love brings to Larena? Will we feel it ourselves as we say again our Baptismal vows?

The power of these prayers is endless, eternal. Each time we renew our Baptismal vows, the power of those words washes over us just as the waters of Baptism did for us once before. When we remember
that we have promised to proclaim the Good News, to seek and serve Christ in ALL persons, to strive for justice and peace, respecting the dignity of every human being, we have the opportunity to remember our passion – the passion Love brings into our hearts the Love who is Emmanuel, God Incarnate who is born in us again tonight.

This passion continually guides us as individuals and as members of this church community. It shows us how to be a level-er of highways. It reminds us to get up and go to the valleys in order to raise up all who are there offering tender care for their wounds, welcome to the excluded, food and clothing to those who need, and friendship to the lonely and friendless.

The passion that Love brings sends us out to the mountains where the rich and powerful reside, to bring them down to the leveled highway, to set them free from the tyranny of attachment (to money, power, reputation), and to give them courage to trust, relieving them of their fear that tries to tame the HS
to restrict Her movement in the world– because hers is a movement of freedom and salvation for ALL.

Love has come into the world again- which means God isn’t through with us yet. God continues to be steadfast in love, generous in grace, and lavish in blessing because we are God’s beloved ones – all of us – the young and the old, the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor… (BCP, 531) “…all, all, all, all, all, all, all” as Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu is known to have said.

We are all imperfect, and we all make mistakes. But we are also all forgiven. We are saved by the One who comes to us tonight as a baby and sanctifies us by his Holy Spirit.

Hallelu – jah! Praise, joy, and thanks be to God who has done this for us, who is doing it again now, and who will do it eternally – until there is no more of it to do.

Now let us stand together and sing Hymn #297 as we process to the Baptismal font, and drench ourselves once again in the passionate love of God in Christ who calls Larena now into the household of God.

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