Isaiah 9: 1-6; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2: 1-14
PROTESTERS…They are the only words that appear on the bottom of the current Time Magazine naming them, the protesters, the 2011 Person of the Year. Millions of people have risen up over the past year to say, enough is enough. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement that has happened around the globe, they are named Person of the Year because they have acknowledged a problem, an injustice that happens in this world and have risen up by the millions across the globe.
It doesn’t matter what you personally think of all these protesters…some think they are uneducated, somehow less than, whatever you think, they have acknowledged a problem and have chosen to Occupy, and for the most part, in a peaceful way.
In reality, it is what we celebrate on this great feast of our faith and Church, a God that has chosen to Occupy us…our lives, our hearts, our homes, our world, every aspect of our being, because we too weren’t getting it, there was injustice, there were problems, and so this God chooses to take drastic measures by occupying our lives, coming into this world and taking on human flesh. This is a God that loves, a God that occupies.
Isaiah tries to make that point in today’s first reading. The people have faced injustices, they were once again preparing for war, they know about exile, they know the journey through the desert, but they still struggled to fathom a God that was with them. This God was named, but seen from a distance, only seen in these “holy places” and yet, they needed something more, the promise of a child that will come who will bring light to those in darkness, light to those who feel gloom; reverse the trials of war, destroy what burdens, a God who will occupy every part of their being, will be one with them, and be with them on this journey. There is the message of hope of only a loving God can occupy.
It doesn’t change when we move ahead in time with today’s gospel from Luke. Mary and Joseph, this holy family, were not immune to trials and suffering. We hear the darkness in today’s reading with the shepherds; both Mary and Joseph understood the fear when God spoke to them, they took great risk by allowing this God to occupy their lives and bringing Him into this world, they will leave the country for the safety of this child, they understood, and yet, they made the choice to allow this God to occupy their lives. They can try to protect and keep safe this child, but from the beginning, the destiny of Him is known, that in order to fully occupy, he would need to know death, he would need to experience the darkness that this world knows. From the start, this child threatened people like Herod, in his own fear and insecurity, and will go to the extremes to try to protect his power; is it not even the leaders of our own time who feel threatened by the occupiers? Have they too not allowed God to occupy their lives?
On this great feast of the Incarnation of our God, we have the opportunity to allow this God to occupy our lives. Not all look forward to the holidays…family can be stressful, we’ve lost people this year, some are sick, families are split…that’s the invitation. These are the places, the darkness we experience, where our God wants to occupy. We are invited to kneel before this child tonight, a child who doesn’t judge and loves unconditionally, and allow him to occupy these places in our lives; to allow this God who loves to occupy our lives, our hearts, our homes, and our world. It doesn’t end our suffering or our experiences of darkness, but rather, when we allow this God to occupy our being, we know He remains with us, offers hope, and assures us that we know longer walk in the darkness, but in His wonderful light!