The mystery of God who crosses all borders
Liz Stuart, 24 December 2021
Isaiah 9: 2–7; Luke 2: 1–20
Dear friends, tonight we meet on the border between night and day – an enchanted, mystical time as places between borders often are – to celebrate and worship a God who crosses borders: the border between heaven and earth, the border between humanity and divinity, the border between life and death.
We come here tonight because more than 2,000 years ago God, the one who breathed life itself into being and he who flung stars into space, entered our world as a baby, opening for eternity the border between humanity and divinity, earth and heaven. Angels come tumbling into time and space. A woman nurtures God in her womb. Shepherds quail at the sight of the glory of God.
Between God and us there is now no ‘between’. He came in painful vulnerability, born not in palace or safe and comfortable home, but in an occupied country, his bedfellows the beasts of the field. He lies in their food trough in a radical reversal of power between human and animal. His divinity is as undefended as his humanity and will lead to his death on a cross and the traversing and abolition of the border between life and death. We meet here tonight to take part in the deepest mystery, the mystery of God who crosses all borders.
Jesus lies in the beasts’ food trough in a radical reversal of power between human and animal. His divinity is as undefended as his humanity.
Hear the message of the angels anew tonight: do not be afraid – because God is with us in the mess and muddle of our world, in the dark places of our vulnerabilities and tenderness. God is with us in all creation groaning in travail, God is with us in death. So there is no need to be afraid.
This is why on this Christmas morning our hearts are undefended and we rejoice. This morning we do not care about borders either. Our hearts expand in the presence of the love of the Christ child so that everyone becomes our neighbour and we are caught up in the giving grace of God. But how quickly it usually fades. Like the famous Christmas truce between German and British troops in 1914, we all too quickly find ourselves propelled back to a world of fear and loneliness, meanness and hostility.
But Jesus crossed another border when he took bread and wine and told his disciples that whenever they met and blessed these things he would be really and truly with them. So, we come every week to this place to do just that – to experience Jesus coming among us just as really as he was in a stable in Bethlehem. We come to keep our hearts broken open by the love God displayed in the Christ child and to continue to hear the message of the angels: do not be afraid. Bethlehem is always here. God continues to cross borders to be with us in the deepest, most vulnerable parts of our humanity.