In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Movement. Lots of movement takes place in the story of the Nativity of our Lord:
People moving to their towns of origin to be registered, including Joseph with his betrothed Mary and the unborn Savior yet in Mary's womb. Angels moving out of the realms of glory into time and space to awe the nomadic shepherds before they would move from their fields to a stable in the humble city of David. The Gentile Magi begin their movement, their journey from the east that will take nearly 2 years.
But all these movements aren't isolated instances. They all have an aim, one common purpose. And that purpose is finally The Movement of the night, Jesus, from the relative safety of the womb into His mothers embrace, then eventually laid into the manger in Peaceful sleep.
This movement is what the Quempas communicates so well. The Carol, or rather the Gospel Message of the Carol, is the mover and the children illustrate that for us. Sung from each of the four corners of the nave, they show that the Gospel is not bound in one place or time, but is for “all the people”, as the angel said. And it is the children who sing it, a beautifully poetic pronouncement from the innocent mouths of those of humble estate, even as the beauty of our salvation was wrapped in so innocent a being in this baby, Jesus.
You see, this is, after all, God's movement: from heavenly glory, to worldly humiliation; from boundless spirit, to limited body. He restrained His divine movement and allowed Himself to be subject to move merely as a human, for the most part. Jesus moved through life as we must move through life: from infancy in Bethlehem to teenager in Nazareth, to adult throughout the region of Galilee as He preached the Kingdom of heaven into the hearts of the people. His greatest move, though, would come during a three day period in the spring of His 30th year among us. The Christ would make His final step in sacrificing Himself for the sins of the whole world. On Friday he would die, but on Sunday, he would rise, / moving from death to life, defeating death, all death, even your death and the power death has over you, defeating death finally with His life.
By His life He redefined what it meant to be human. It is no longer like the pessimistic saying goes: “You're born, you live, then you die.” We don't move through life toward death; our death took place about 2000 years ago, that's where the consequences of our sin were realized, on the cross. No, we move through life toward more life, eternal life, with the Lord of life. This was the goal of God's movement among us.
Even so, God is not done moving. When Jesus ascended it was as if He ascended into the Sacramental life of the Church, which is His holy Body. He moves in hidden ways now. By His Word He moves through the mouths of your pastors; He moves under simple bread and wine on each altar that will receive Him; He moves in and through water in each font that confesses His name. These are the hidden movements of God among us. And they are all directed to you. He is continually seeking you in Word and Sacrament; bringing you right along with Him. Your life is true life because it is connected to and inseparable from His life. Your life is likewise a dying and rising, daily, as He moves into you by way of your ears and mouth; You listen to Him in His Word, you receive His life in the Sacrament, over and over and over, dying and rising until finally, your earthly journey is over.
But though your movement in this world will some day end, it is not as though you are done moving. For the goal of His Word and Sacrament movement in your life now, is that you would finally be moved to be with Him whenever it is that He calls you home, transferring you from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant.
This is our hope, and this hope is the source of our joy, at Christmas and every day. So, in joy we sing with the children,
To our king, God ever reigning,
Yet of Mary manhood gaining,
Heav’nly gifts for us obtaining,
Raise your hymns of homage high!
In the name of our King, +Jesus. Amen.
[Artwork by Ed Riojas]