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Meeting Jesus: A Sermon for Christmas 1
December 30, 2015, 12:17 pm
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The texts this week

Christ has no body but yours,No hands, no feet on earth but yours,Yours are the eyes with which he looksCompassion on this world,Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,Yours are the hands, with which he blesse

Grace and peace to you, sisters and brothers in Christ.


All during Advent, we waited and prayed for God to come into our lives as God came into our world through Jesus. We celebrated how God comes in unexpected ways, born as a baby, placed in a manger. We remembered how this same God chose to show love and power by dying on the cross for us all. Now we move forward into the Christmas season, and into the new year, and the challenge is if we can carry all this joy and hope and celebrating the unexpected forward.


As we read the Gospels, we hear about Jesus’ life. The writers of the gospels don’t seem to be as interested in Jesus’ life between his birth and his later years of ministry as many of us might be. I’ve always been more curious than they seem to be. With more than one difficult confirmation class, I’ve found myself wondering what preteen Jesus would have been like? Would he be the one throwing pens at the soda can or playing paper football? Or would he end up interrupting saying, “no, this is what my Father and the Spirit were thinking…”


Today, we hear the only story of Jesus in his later childhood. He went with his family to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. He hasn’t returned with them. His parents are understandably upset, wondering where he has gone. They go all the way back to Jerusalem, to the temple, and find him there.


He’s not running around with the other kids, causing mischief, he’s both learning from and teaching the teachers.


It’s hard for me to see this scene: respected teachers and religious leaders gathered around a kid, with recognition in their eyes that he has wisdom to give them.


I can’t see it because I can’t see my community doing the same thing. We organize our lives around our children, trying to give them the best, but it doesn’t seem like we look to them as if they have much to offer.


Jesus is God, so he had plenty to teach others. I don’t think we need to get caught up in a debate of how much Jesus retained Godly knowledge and how much he set aside to embrace humanity. The challenge in this text is to consider in whom we’re ready to meet God.


Those teachers made a choice to sit down and listen to Jesus. They allowed him to sit among them. No one would have thought it strange if they had brushed him off, saying, “sorry, kid, I’m busy.” They could have overlooked him in favor of their own disciples as they asked teaching questions. Instead, they chose to be open to receiving God through this precocious preteen. By being willing to humble themselves to listen to a child, they were blessed by Jesus’ teaching.


I have to wonder if I’ve missed the opportunity to meet God because I haven’t been open to sitting down to listen.


Who have you or I assumed wouldn’t have anything to offer? Who have we said wasn’t old enough? Who doesn’t have their life together enough? Who was simply overlooked?


At baptism, we declare that the baptized are filled with the Holy Spirit and we call on them to let the light of Christ shine through them. We don’t say strongly enough that we’re ready to welcome God working through them.


What if instead of wondering how we would manage children, providing a space away from the rest of us to be noisy, we heard God’s voice in their song? What if instead of trying to shout over someone who’s on singing the wrong verse, we stopped to learn from that person with an enthusiastic faith and commitment to worship? My job security might be dependent on a system which requires professional clergy, but we are squelching the Spirit if any of you are convinced that you don’t have a faith worth sharing, an idea worth trying, or gifts that could be used in service of God’s work.


Unexpected as it might be, the good news is that God is found in you. You bear Christ’s light into the world, and in you dwells the Holy Spirit. God has humbled Godself to be found in you and me. We are not perfect people, we are not always wise or strong or right… but God works through us. At this moment in time, God has no hands but ours. Saint Teresa of Avila reflects on this in her poem:


Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.



She reminds us that we are each members of Christ’s body, called to continue his work today.

The God who has come to us by being born into humanity continues to be found in and among us. God is as near as the person next to you, God is here in bread and wine, God is outside these doors, waiting to be met, waiting for you to join in God’s ongoing work to heal the world. God has humbled Godself, and chosen to be found with us.


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