Manger: sermon by Jessica Martin

There is no creature more needy than a human baby.  For those first months, even years, all the nourishment apparently comes from adult to child.  (What comes the other way is more profoundly difficult to quantify, but one name for it is love.)  Luke is offering this child to us – yes, as needy, but even more as a sign of nourishment, newborn to adult.  He lies in a manger; from birth, he offers himself to the world as heavenly food.

Grown-up, and facing his death, this same Jesus breaks bread and offers wine – the staple food of that time and that place – and says ‘This is myself, offered to you for your hunger and your need.  I will fill you, because I am fulfilment.’  It will not be long before his body, broken and bloody, is wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a rock tomb.  Death and birth echo each other, for the nourishment comes through death as well as through birth; the swaddling strips of cloth speak of Jesus’s shroud as well as his new body of love; the wise men’s gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – worship that needy, insecure newborn as an immortal God who must also die and be mourned.

Jesus is born to die, and born to bring life; he comes into the world desperately needy, and he is the world’s nourishment; he is defeated, and in that defeat he brings God’s victory over all that destroys body and soul.  That is the sign of the swaddled baby in the manger: his need feeds us in our deepest hunger; his death brings to us abundant life; in all things, his poverty is our riches.  Thanks be to God.

— via Unapologetic