Christmas Eve, 2014
Do you remember your first kiss? The anticipation – because this is so going to be different than the pecks on the cheek Aunt Mary and Aunt Anna Lee give me. The worry – because I’ve never done this before so what will it be like, will I be good, will she be good, what if we get stuck that way? My first kiss was with Sherri Overall in 2nd grade. We were playing house at her house. She had on her mama’s high heels and costume jewelry. I had on her daddy’s sports jacket. All at once she came up to me and said, “have a good day!” and smacked one on me. I didn’t know what to do so I smooched back tongue and all. It didn’t end well.
A kiss is when two human beings reach out to one another. We are attempting to touch each other’s soul. We are making ourselves vulnerable – germs, disease, good kisser/bad kisser. We are sharing ourselves wholly. The Birth of Jesus wasn’t just the birth of a baby boy; it is a kiss blown from heaven to humanity.
Sure, we’d had flirtation with God before the Christmas event. As kids we went on a field trip with Abraham and Sarah. There was that moment in middle school when we were really geeky, asking for kings like other nations, not listening to God’s prophets wondering what it was the Isaiah, Jeremiah and all those others were saying. And now as full blown adults God has taken us out and invited us to Bethlehem for a kiss.
The Birth of Christ isn’t just about the birth of a baby. God is attempting to touch our soul. Christmas is about beginnings. There was a young wife and mother of two children whose husband was in the Air Force during one of the nation’s military conflicts. As Christmas approached, she gathered her children and headed for her parents’ home for the Christmas celebration. She arrived to find her parents’ home gaily decorated. The tree was glistening with lights and the presents were crammed beneath it. And, although her husband could not be present, it promised to be a happy time together.
Then, on Christmas Eve, came the news that her husband had been killed in combat, and the woman was devastated. While she was upstairs crying in her room, her parents, who now felt that the decorations were suddenly inappropriate, began to take them down. The lights were unplugged and the gifts put in a closet. Later, when the new widow came down the stairs, she saw the decorations gone and the tree darkened. “Where is everything?” she asked. When her father explained, the young woman, with a wisdom beyond her years, said, “No. Bring them back! Christmas was made for such times as these.” God touching our soul.
It’s not just a boy. God is being vulnerable with us. Jesus is a baby, a human baby. He cries, he poops, he has colic, and Mary watch out, he is going to have questions and doubts and fears. Jesus is a baby. The all-powerful God lays aside all that cosmic power and makes himself able to get sick, able to bleed, able to experience heartache, able to be killed. Jesus is a baby who will grow into a man to receive a kiss from Judas.
It’s not just a boy. God is sharing the Divine-Self wholly. All those moments with Moses and Elijah, Amos and Malachi and all those other names in the Old Testament we can’t pronounce were flirts and glances. Tonight is the first kiss. God shares all love and all that God is in a baby. In Christ we experience the awesome holy nature of God fully.
You can read romance novels about sitting next to the one you love. You can hear stories about how they looked at one another and saw fireworks. You can sing songs about the passionate kisses and the heat of the moment. But until you lean in and experience a kiss – you’ll never know what kissing is.
Tonight is a kiss from God. The anticipation and excitement of Advent is over. We don’t have to be worried because God who made our lips knows what kind of person we are. Tonight God invites us to salvation wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. We all know that awkwardness of kissing someone who isn’t kissing back. Won’t you come to Bethlehem with Jesus tonight? Won’t you receive the gift God is giving this Christmas?