By: Rev. Joanne Buchanan-Brown
Sharon’s Christmas Prayer
She was five,
sure of the facts,
and recited them
with slow solemnity
convinced every word
they were so poor
they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
and they went a long way from home
without getting lost. The lady rode
a donkey, the man walked, and the baby
was inside the lady.
They had to stay in a stable
with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)
but the Three Rich Men found them
because a star lited the roof
Shepherds came and you could
pet the sheep but not feed them.
Then the baby was borned.
And do you know who he was?
Her quarter eyes inflated
to silver dollars.
The baby was God!
And she jumped in the air
whirled round, dove into the sofa
and buried her head under the cushion
which is the only proper response
to the Good News of the Incarnation.
John Shea, reprinted in Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing
Maybe I’m just a big kid, but every time I read “Sharon’s Christmas Prayer”, I giggle out loud until I am home. This five-year-old child seems comically but seriously at home; in her unabashed telling of The Story; in her safety to “hee-hee” and jump and twirl and plunge her head under the couch cushion; in herself. Sharon is at home within, at home in her God; she is the embodiment of the meaning of Christ’s coming, and it’s catching!
And Ms. A is also at home. Reentering “free” society after a number of years in prison, she now lives in her own lovely but modest local apartment, fully transitioned from Longmont’s The Reentry Initiative’s housing and other supportive services. But even as I knew her behind the grueling walls of prison, she moved and spoke and acted out of a place of “home”. Despite the daily external struggle in the midst of such a broken and demeaning system, she was home in her God, in her Christ. Despite any external circumstances, Ms. A’s home is God.
I recall a Christmas sermon preached by Rev. Joyce Curtis some twenty years ago now—her sermon painted the image of the celebration of the incarnation as a homecoming. I’ve never let go of that image, and today it has evolved into a visceral sense within me, and I can say this: Around the manger, around the table, around the cruelty of fear and hatred and exclusion and injustice, we sit peacefully, or stand hesitantly, or march and cry out boldly, together, with a star leading us. In the messiness of both our humanity and our divinity, which the Jesus in swaddle wedded together for us deep into that night-of-nights, we come home. Don’t we?
I would like to invite you to ponder, as the blessed Mary did, this Advent. What is your particular response to the Good News of the incarnation? Where or what or who is “home” for you? No matter your theological bent, your childhood situation, or your current family drama, what if Christ were “home” for you? What if somehow God in Christ IS the room, the space of safety to be yourself, the story that is told with big eyes and giggles, the sure yet mysterious base within from which you speak and move and act in a difficult, unjust, and hurting world? What difference might this make in your day-to-day living? What might be gradually transformed in you, birthed in you, then, by the time you come to Christmas next year, and the year after, and the year after that?
Dr. Dianne M. Connelly, pioneering acupuncturist, wrote a book with the title “All Sickness is Homesickness.” This Christmas, let us each and all be well; let us be giggled and twirled and star- guided home–to the home that lets us leave, but that never leaves us. Thanks be to God! Amen.