*sermon delivered on 12/20/15 at The Beloved Community in Asheville, North Carolina
The incarnation of God is a shitty story. This speaks not of the quality of the story…but rather where the story takes places. Jesus was born in a stable full of shit.
The Christmas story is a strange tale. Don’t let the commercialization fool you. Jesus was not white. Jesus was not born in a department store. Jesus was not Santa’s baby. Jesus was born to one of the strongest women to ever exist. Jesus was born in an occupied territory. Jesus was born to bust down walls and destroy lines. The Christmas story is a strange tale.
This time of the year is not about deals. You are not going to find Jesus while shopping. Jesus came into the shit and that is exactly where you will find him today.
Do you know about this trip that Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem? This woman was full with child. This woman was experiencing deep pains. This woman was about to deliver this baby. Can you imagine riding on anything in that condition? This woman was and is the truth.
Do you realize that Bethlehem is currently in the occupied territory of Palestine? If Mary and Joseph tried to make the trip today…they would meet the walls that the Israelis have built. We think walls will keep us safe…but all they actually do is keep God out. We must become a wall breaking people.
Can you imagine the questions Mary and Joseph got along the way? How long have you been married? Do you feel like you are old enough to have a child? Did she cheat on you? What’s your address? Questions like these are still ruining lives. How many of you feel like you are discriminated against or marginalized based on reoccurring questions? I guess we just need to start telling folks it’s none of their damn business and work for a world where they don’t have the right to ask these oppressive questions.
The Christmas story is about those who have been left out. This story is about a God that was born in the midst of some wild shit.
We have a woman claiming that she is having a child without having sex. We have a man who believes her. Who is crazier? Sometimes I feel like I am…because I think it’s true.
Mary carries God. No one else can make such a claim. Despite the fact that the church has spent thousands of years oppressing women…this was always meant to be a story about liberation. Before Jesus is born…God comes to us as a woman.
Protestants don’t want to touch Mary because they know it can lead to the empowerment of women. Catholics can’t get enough of Mary because they know if they talk about her enough then they don’t have to talk about the empowerment of women. Both are wrong. Mary kicks down the walls for all women.
Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem. Can you imagine if they arrived in Asheville, North Carolina? Can you imagine if they sought shelter at the Biltmore Mansion? Can you imagine? Nevertheless, Mary and Joseph talk to this innkeeper. Have you ever thought about this innkeeper? I don’t feel like I have to think about him. I feel like I see him on television…his name is Donald Trump. This man is running around telling the world that the wealthiest nation on earth has no room in the inn. God is always outside the inn.
The police are our current innkeepers. Most would rather gun you down in the street than have to help you find a place to stay for the night. We’ve seen unarmed body after body shot down in our streets. If you’re poor in America then you get shot down in the streets. If you’re undocumented in America then you get shot down in the streets. If you’re mentally ill in America then you deserve to get shot down in the streets. On and on and on… We keep on hearing that the police feel that their lives are threatened. Aren’t they the ones with the guns? Many people have taken to the streets to resist. Let me tell you one more time…God is always outside the inn…in the streets.
The United States is the inn. We are the richest nation on earth. People keep knocking at our door. We keep turning God away.
When the innkeeper turns Mary and Joseph away…he is saying that he doesn’t give a shit whether their child lives or dies. I don’t care what your needs are…you aren’t getting in here. The beds are full and I can’t loose any money. This is the nature of capitalism. We live in a similar society.
The innkeeper gives Mary and Joseph a little piece and lets them stay in the stable. We do the same thing. We give pieces away to appease the marginalized and oppressed. We think that we can give enough pieces away that we wont have to deal with the real problems. Like the innkeeper…we feel like we can just put our problems out back.
The situation got shittier. Upon arrival at the barn, there was shit everywhere. Animals letting their shit rip all over the place. Can you imagine your last steps before you give birth being over and through piles of shit? Then…Jesus drops down right into the shit. We serve a shitty God! In the midst of the shit…Jesus shows us how to be the shit…by hanging around in the shit with God.
There wasn’t any room in the inn for Jesus…it didn’t matter…God was always out in the shit and that’s exactly where we are called to be.
May this Christmas be the shittiest Christmas you have ever had!