First on behalf of Rev. Colleen and I, we want to extend to each and every one of you the hopes and wishes for a very blessed and happy and grace filled Christmas. Please know that we are offering the Mass tonight for each and every one of you and the intentions you hold in your hearts.
Secondly, thank you….thank you for being here, for being able to make the choice to be here to celebrate this awesome eve on which we recall and remember the birth of our Savior into our world.
Third and finally….a reflection on our gathering tonight. I think we could all agree that we live in a postmodern, extremely scientific world. We live in a world of deduction and systematic analysis. We live in a world that loves and lives on measurable outcomes and logistical quantifications.
We eat sleep and breath strategic management and verifiable results…..often powered by the science of algorithm’s—from facial recognition to finger print analysis to buying habits and viewing habits, and shopping habits and driving habits….as if our whole existence can be measured and predicted by habits and past behavior.
Into all that reality, we gather tonight and we tell and retell and listen and sing a pray a story….a story of an unwed 13 yr old girl, displaced, poor, and scared, engaged to an unemployed trades person, who is himself displaced and in a foreign land even though it was the land of his ancestors.
And we have the audacity to proclaim that mysteriously this child was conceived by God and is for us Emmanuel….literally….God with us!
Then to top it off, the first people to be told of this unimaginable miracle outside of his mother and father are a group of ragamuffin, less than stellar performers, called shepherds—often dirty, tired, underpaid and certainly not socially on the higher end of the scale. To them…the message is given…what?????
From the outside, anyone in our world today would say that we have lost our mind, or that we are absolutely delusional.
But like I said on Sunday…..Dreams are dangerous things and so are angels….and my friends both of those show up everywhere in our lives….if we just look for them!
You see as my Baptist missionary Bishop friend from southern Missouri once said and I firmly believe: It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
Do you think maybe you could repeat that with me tonight…..It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
You see we can’t measure or plot the trajectory of the mystery of God….just when we think we got it going on….God says….surprise…..and sure enough….
This Savior of ours is born….and before you know it…the one whom we proclaim is God with us…is being loaded back onto a donkey and put into a caravan of other crying babies and trapest all the way from Bethlehem to Egypt….on foot…through the desert….without many resources…and this is how the Savior of the World shows up? Really???? But as we said: It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
Then after years of growing in wisdom, age and grace—in a foreign land….this Savior and his family return and he finds his cousin….who by many accounts others think is a little on the edge of sanity…. baptizing others in the River Jordon… and sure enough…. that’s where Jesus ends up. Why? Why there? Why John? Why not the temple like all good Jewish boys making their Barmitzvah….really Jesus? I can just hear Mary and Joseph…..Do you have to continue this story?
And I can hear Jesus say: Yes because:
It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
Then preaching and teaching, inviting others too see God in a new way is begun. Jesus bucks the establishment….he says…you are blessed…or blessed are you….not come to the temple…but come into a relationship with God….and he calls twelve unique and shall we say eccentric individuals to help spread the Good News…..repent…yes…not to beat ourselves up…but rather that we can realize …that our lives are to be about a relationship with God not a relationship to laws and structures…..from prayer to fasting, to the golden rule and the narrow gate…Jesus says over and over…the Kingdom is at hand….and the authorities buck him and his message….but he stays steadfast and it is all because: It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
Radical hospitality, provocative nurturing and courageous compassionate leadership…they are not just the three pillars of our community, they are the road map of the life of Jesus. He eats with prostitutes and tax collectors. He drinks water with Samaritans and dines with sages and sinners.
He questions authorities, knocks over money changers tables and calls a spade a spade…all out of love and all out of the conviction that it is our relationship with God that is most important in our lives, or that it at least ought to be. Why….because true love, is stronger than any wall, or any law.
And his life points to the fact that: It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
Jesus upsets so many that it leads him to the trial and to the cross and ultimately to death…and from the outside most would say….well its over….that’s what the authorities wanted to be said….they even put guards at his tomb to make sure that was what would be said. Its finally over….. Yet…once again: It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
And from there this child born out of wedlock, in exile from his home in a strange land in a cold little stable on the outskirts of town….from there to the rushing descent of the Holy Spirit the entire world is changed…why? Because: It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!
And my friends you know what….I am glad to share this good news with you tonight….a Good News…. that you now know deep in your hearts as well….the Good News of great Joy…. you have said it over and over: It ain’t over until Jesus says its over!