Intergenerational service with Communion.
Christmas Eve 2022 – Parkminster United Church
Interruptions! They can be one of life’s great frustrations. Everything is moving along well, and then the unexpected happens. But interruptions are inevitable. They are part of life and not even a “no vacancy” sign will stop them.
The Christmas story is punctuated with interruptions. The government interrupts Mary and Joseph’s lives and tells them they must make the long trek to Bethlehem from their hometown of Nazareth in order to pay their taxes. The innkeeper is interrupted by this young couple on his doorstep, and he interrupts their plans to tell them they must stay in the barn with the animals because there are no more rooms available. A multitude of visitors descend upon them – it’s one interruption after another.
Interruptions come to us all the time and in so many different ways. Some are welcome, others are not. Some are completely unexpected and take us by surprise, others are desired and prayed for. It could be a knock on the door or a phone call, a sudden insight or new understanding, a dream or an event that changes the routines and rhythms of your life. It could be a new opportunity, running into an old friend or making a new one. It could be the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a marriage, an illness, a failure or disappointment, the end of a relationship, finding a job, retiring from a job. It could be news you never wanted to hear or news you had waited and hoped for.
The world is full of individual and collective interruptions. Our planet’s ecosystems are interrupting humanity with an urgency that cannot be ignored. Everywhere we look across the globe, the effects of human-induced climate change, pollution, deforestation, and extreme energy extraction are interrupting and disrupting the lives of billions of people.
Mary and Joseph were buffeted by forces beyond their control. They were like so many families today who live in areas gripped by violent regimes, or whose crops have been decimated by drought, or who are struggling to make ends meet month after month, or who find themselves wandering and seeking safety someplace with room at the inn where they can find shelter, a warm place to sleep, a meal, a change of clothes, and a lead on a new life.
Some interruptions are mere nuisances or inconveniences. Some are life changing. And some are needed and necessary. Some interruptions give us something and others take something from us. Some ask us to take on something new and others ask us to leave behind something old or familiar.
So, here’s what I wonder. What if each interruption in our life is a divine visitation breaking in and prying open the present moment in order to stop or at least slow down our life so that we might take account, pay attention, get curious?
What if each interruption in our life is a sacred space, a manger cradling possibilities we’ve never before considered, imagined, or thought possible?
What if each interruption in this time and in these days is as pregnant with life as were the interruptions in that time and “in those days?”
The question isn’t whether our lives will be interrupted. They will be. The question is this: What will we do when they are?
In every age the Christmas story is a story of opening to the interruptions. It was on the first Christmas, and it is today. It was for Mary, Joseph, and the innkeeper and it is for you and me. Somehow through the interruptions of our lives the child is born anew. At this little manger, a new spark of love is born into the world. We see love going beyond race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, family structures, political views.
I can’t tell you how that happens. I don’t know. I don’t understand it any better than did Mary, Joseph, or the innkeeper. I only know that when we open ourselves to the interruptions Christmas happens. Peace interrupts chaos, hope interrupts injustice, joy interrupts despair, love interrupts hate.
Perhaps there is magic in the interruptions. We are here tonight in response to an invitation that so beautifully interrupted our lives.
May you experience this most sacred interruption. May God interrupt us with the gift of this Christ child. And may all Earth experience this interruption of hope and peace, love and joy. Christmas blessings to you all. Amen.
Rev. Heather Power