Christmas Eve, December 24, 2014

Kristin White

It is God’s essential nature for God to make space for us.[1] Throughout the stories of our salvation history, God shows this again and again. In the story of Creation, God forms the first person, breathes God’s own breath into Adam, and plants a garden by the sweat of God’s own brow – a space where Adam can live, a land for him to tend and to keep. In the story of God’s people becoming a people, God sends Abram to a land which God promises to show him, a space of his own, far from everything and nearly everyone Abram has known. In the story of the Exodus, the people who have been strangers and slaves in Egypt follow Moses; they follow the pillar of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night; and when they find themselves at the Red Sea, God makes space for the children of Israel to walk through on dry land. In the story of two women who have lost everything they have, God makes space for Ruth with her mother-in-law, Naomi: “Where you go, I will go,” Ruth says. “Where you stay, I will stay; your people will be my people, your God will be my God.”

God makes space, in creation and abundance and promise and delivery and refuge. God continues to make space, multiplying loaves and fishes so that 5000 people (besides women and children) don’t have to leave and go find their own dinner. God makes space in the storm for a boat full of fearful disciples, calming the waters that rage. God makes space. Over and over, throughout our history with God, God makes space for us.


Last Sunday our Associate Rector, Bryan Cones, preached a beautiful sermon about Mary’s assent to God’s messenger, about Mary’s agreement to partner with God, bringing Christ into being through her flesh and blood and bone.

And the truth of that is that “God’s ‘yes’ depends on our own…God’s birth requires human partners.”[2] And Mary’s “yes” might be the most faithful and powerful response she could give to that angel, and thereby to God. After a history of God making space for God’s people, here is a moment when God’s person agrees to make space for God. That’s what it is, to use Bryan’s words, that’s what it is to be “all in” with God.

And so, tonight we celebrate that divine and human partnership, that interdependent, sacred “yes”. Tonight we celebrate God taking on human flesh and taking up space in this world. Tonight we celebrate God choosing to be like us in order that God would be with us.

Tonight we make space for God. We tell those stories of God with us. We remember them in ways that make those stories part of our own flesh and blood and bone. We teach those stories to our children, help our children allow the stories to inhabit themselves, so the stories of who we are and who God is can live on in their bones, as well. We make space for God as we give the good gifts we have to share – our worship and our joy, our care for one another, our hospitality.

It seems to me that this dark night is a good time to remember God making space for us. This is a good time for God to inhabit and illumine us, right now. The world as it is, is not the world as it should be. So much is fearful and divided and despairing. If we think too long about Liberia and Sierra Leone, and Ferguson and Staten Island, and Peshawr and New York, if we think too long about the devastations in and frustrations our own individual lives, it’s too easy to hold God at arms’ length. It’s too easy to choose guardedness and isolation and self-protection and even cynicism, over trust, over hope, over light and love.

Because love makes us vulnerable. And because love makes God vulnerable, too.[3]

After all, the stories we live might just break our hearts. The hospitality we extend could bring pain with it too. The gifts we give might well be lost.

And Mary could have said no to that angel. Joseph could have refused her and cast her out, shunned and humiliated her, when he realized she was pregnant. The innkeeper might not have offered even that barn, or that cave, whatever it was, meager a space as it was for a poor pregnant couple to spend the night. The shepherds might have chosen to remain out in that field in their fear, instead of adding their voices to the chorus of God’s glory.

But instead, at least in that moment, in their various ways, they all said yes. And as they said yes, they went all in. And earth met heaven and heaven met earth, together with angels and archangels and all that blessed company. They made space for God who makes space for us.

And so, friends, on this holy night, I say to you what the authors of these texts say to us all, to everybody, everybody, everybody: Do not be afraid. Because a light shines in the darkness. Do not be afraid. Because a child has been born for us. Do not be afraid. Because the word has become flesh, and dwells among us, full of grace and truth. Do not be afraid. Because God creates space enough for us all.

And so make space of your own, this night, for God. Let Christ inhabit you, as you remember these stories of who we are. Let Christ inhabit you, as you give the good gifts you have to share. Make space for love and light to inhabit you, and grace upon grace. Make space for God, who will still and always make space for you.


[1] Molly Marshall. “Theological Perspective,” Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 2. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2010. 468.

[2] Barbara Brown Taylor. Gospel Medicine. Boston: Cowley Publications, 1995. 157.

[3] VanderZee,