We Must Show Up for Each Other
Christmas Eve is such an incredible night to gather together and sing familiar songs and read about the baby Jesus being born.
There’s something reassuring that the same story we retell each year.
But, what does it all mean?
God became flesh. The infinite became finite. God incarnate?
The theology of Christmas is quite deep and profound.
Entire religions have been created depending on how you answer these questions.
What does it all really mean? And how is it relevant today?
The simplest way to understand Christmas is that time when God showed up as Jesus to heal the world.
At that time of Jesus, the world was in darkness. A narcist king ruled Israel under the thumb of a ruthless global empire. Evil was on the march. Goodness was hard to find. Even the opportunity to choose to be kind and good was slipping away.
The world needed to be healed.
Jesus showed up to be our healer.
His life on earth was marked by miraculous physical healings, but he reminded everyone he was really on earth to heal our souls.
Today, we live in a world that feels dark as well.
Narcissist authoritarians dominate our political, business, and celebrity culture. We mark success by how much we make and how many know us. The gap between those that have too much money and those that can’t get by has never been greater. We still judge people based on their gender, the color of their skin, or whom they love. We have stopped speaking to those who don’t vote as we do.
And in 2020, we were all reminded of our mortality.
A plague, of Biblical proportions, has swept our planet leaving some to die early, others to be sick and all of us to live with some degree of fear.
How does Jesus come today?
Well, Christmas teaches us that God showed up for humanity with love.
Mary and Joseph couldn’t make sense of what was happening or what they were being asked to do, but they showed up in love for each other.
The shepherds showed up to their jobs for another night of work, only to be told by angels to go see Jesus. And, they showed up at the manger, not sure what to make of it all.
The Wisemen studied and followed a star, not sure where they were going. And, they showed up with gifts in love.
The message of Christmas is that the healing of the world happens when we show up in love.
Today, as followers of Jesus, we too must show up for one another in love.
What does that look like today?
We saw it this year.
When health workers showed up in compassion and risked, and sometimes lost their lives, to heal us.
When grocery store workers showed up to feed us.
When truckers drove to supply us.
When teachers showed up to teach us.
When pastors showed up to preach to us.
Parents who have done everything they can to get their little ones into a seat to stare at a screen knowing that the goal is really just to show up.
In a year that made it almost impossible to show up, we have found new ways.
That’s how we heal each other, ourselves, and the world.
How about our church, have we shown up in a year when we’ve been shut down?
After my message tonight you are going to see something really special. The US Army Band recorded their Christmas special this year at Church of the Holy City.
Our church found ways to show up.
When you arrive on Sunday services on zoom, sometimes cooking, sometimes eating, sometimes watching the football game over your screen sometimes with no camera because you are in your pajamas (I know), you make this all possible, simply by showing up.
In the early weeks of the pandemic, Annabel and Kateryna helped me figure out how to go virtual within a few days, so we never missed a week. We showed up.
A pastor of the church I heard stories from visitors using our church for events this last year.
When a young lesbian woman told me that she found the church space so welcoming she received healing. I didn’t get it.
What did we do? What did we say?
There was no three-part marketing strategy. Just said she just felt welcomed. She said it was just the way we showed up authentically for her and she could show up as her authentic self, something she never expected in a church.
Many I’ve talked to this year share with me their stress and depression. Sometimes just getting up out of bed is all we can do. And, yes, that’s showing up too.
Our world needs healing.
We need healing.
And, with God’s love working through you, we can heal.
All we have to do is show up.
God will do the rest.
Who will you show up for in the coming weeks and year?
Like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Wisemen, we don’t have a complete plan to deal with this, we don’t have to.
That ability to show up in love is the deepest meaning of the healing power of Jesus coming into the world.
That is the message of Christmas!