December 24, 2017 – The Prince and the Pea

Rev. Josh Broward

Princess and the Pea – Hans Christian Anderson
A prince wanted to marry a real princess, but no one could measure up.
During a storm, a woman came to the castle in need of a place to stay. She said
she was a princess, but they weren’t sure. The queen put a hard pea under the
mattress and then added 40 extra layers of mattresses and bedding. The next
morning, when the princess said she had slept poorly because something was
poking her all night, they knew she was a real princess.
////A small change can cause a great disruption.////

Babies
Few things evoke joy, compassion and warm feelings like a new baby. An
entire industry has arisen in congratulating and supporting the new parents even
before birth. Most of the cards say something like: “Congratulations on your new
bundle of joy.”
But one time I saw a more honest new baby card. “Hearty congratulations
… on the arrival of the new boss.”
I think someone should make one that says: “Congratulations! … And
Welcome to sleep deprivation. We hope you survive.”
////A small change can cause a great disruption.////

Mary
Jesus turned Mary’s world upside down.
First, there are the normal disruptions of pregnancy and child birth and parenting:
• morning sickness
• sore backs and swollen feet
• can never get comfortable in bed
• last good night of sleep for a few years
• stretch marks
• delivery without pain medicine, and probably without a midwife in a stable

But also the special disruptions of giving birth to the Messiah:
• social scorn and stigma of being an unwed mother
• going through a near breakup with Joseph
• new and unusual friends – Magi
• becoming a target for the powerful (Herod) – had to flee in the night
• venturing into unknown territory as refugees in Egypt
• dealing with the questions and pain of birthing and raising the Messiah
(What is our role here? How will this all play out? Is it OK if I spank him?)
• “Lost” him at the Temple
• “A sword will pierce your own soul”
////A small change can cause a great disruption.////

Jesus
If Mary had a fast donkey, Jesus would have been about the size of a
blueberry when Mary God to Elizabeth’s house. If she walked, the King of the
Universe would have grown all the way to the size of a lemon.
And yet, tiny blueberry-lemon Jesus causes John the Baptist to jump
inside Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth says, “God has blessed you above all
women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my
Lord should visit me?” Mary doesn’t even have a baby bump yet, but Jesus is still
Elizabeth’s Lord.
But then Mary prophesies an even greater disruption.
• God has poured out favor on her – a “servant girl”
• Her own generation may call her shameful or loose or wretched or unlucky,
but future generations will call her blessed.
• The mighty and holy God has shown mercy to weak and sinful Israel.
• God has scattered the proud and arrogant.
• God has knocked princes off their thrones.
• God has lifted up the lowly and humble.
• God has filled the hungry with good food.
• God has sent the rich away empty.
• God has turned the world upside down.
And all of this was because of tiny blueberry Jesus.
////A small change can cause a great disruption.////

Us
Through layers and layers of history, through layers and layers of comfort
and wealth, we can have such a padded perspective that Jesus feels like a tiny
pea that barely causes discomfort in today’s world.

But he is still changing the world, turning the world upside down. He is still
looking for people and churches to welcome him into the wombs of their souls
and their families so that he can be born among us again and revolutionize our
worlds again. Welcome to Christmas.
God is doing something here in this church, and it is bigger than us. God
is doing something. We can’t make it happen, but we get to work along with God
while God does something that is bigger than our dreams. That is a great
privilege, but it comes with the necessary cost of disruption. The status quo has
to be disrupted for the new Way to be born. God can’t do New Things in the
same old ways. Welcome to Christmas.
If we allow God’s work among us to grow, if we allow Jesus to be born
more fully among us, then, somewhere along the way, we are going to feel
uncomfortable and disoriented, maybe even scared or angry. Welcome to
Christmas – the time when God asks unwed teens to have babies and topples
rulers and throws parties for the night shift workers and births a king in a barn
and invites eastern astrologers to celebrate a Jewish Messiah and challenges
everything we thought we knew about religion. Welcome to Christmas.
Be ready. It will be disruptive, but good. There will be pain and discomfort,
but also joy and warmth and love. And through it all, Jesus is still Emmanuel,
God with Us. Welcome to Christmas.