Advent 4C 12/23/12
Episcopal Church of the Epiphany
The Rev. Cynthia Hizer
Not enough angels too many animals.
I have started my annual worry about the epiphany pageant.
About getting enough animals and shepherds and angels. We had been chronically short on angel costumes, so last year I ordered several more = like ten more.
Then the sign-ups came in – and no one signed up to be an angel.
Maybe a couple did = but then when they saw all the cool animal costumes they threw off their angel wings and asked to be an animal instead.
What red-blooded child would want to float on clouds all day?
This is the complexity of the incarnation. Jesus came for us to be fully divine and fully human –
both angel and animal.
We are told that Mary, mother of Jesus was chosen because she was without sin. Immaculate – she was totally clean. Obviously an angel. And even Mary’s mother Anna was without sin. Immaculate.
That makes us feel even worse.
Two generations of immaculatness – of sinlessness – angelness.
Juxtaposed against our – animalness.
As if being an animal – an incarnation – is somehow sinful. As if coming into the world in the normal way – the way most of us get conceived and born – is sinful. God created us to have relationships with each other – to fall in love, to enjoy our animalness.
This is far away from the Garden of Eden – with Eve eating the apple and the cursing of the serpent. It was written to set up fear of our animalness and I dare say –
our animal wisdom.
Because that kind of wisdom plants us firmly on the earth in our bodies.
It plants us in the animal body of Mary.
And makes even little children know it is more fun and just more real
to be an animal than an angel in the Epiphany pageant.
So I say,
Thank you Jesus, for Mary.
For bringing us back down to earth.
She may have been sinless, but at least she gives birth in the usual way, not out of the side of Zeus’s head, the way Athena was born.
At least she gives birth after riding on a donkey, not floating on clouds.
Thank you Jesus, for Mary.
At least she gave birth on a stable floor –
in the midst of straw and dung and darkness and all animal things – the parts of our own story that we can’t brush aside or air-brush to look as if our whole life story took place in the company of angels.
Thank you Jesus, for Mary,
for trusting in the incarnation,
for the inherent animal wisdom of our children who knowThat coming from the earth
That being a part of nature
That being incarnational is good.
And even more than good, it’s whole. It’s the whole package of who we are.
It makes us the complicated people we are – people who live in both worlds,
who wait for the creative spark to be born in us,
- the new life to be born in us,
- the divine to be born in us
Right where we are – right now, on the stable floor.