Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Christmas Sermon that I Walked Out On, and The One I Spoke Up About

2012 was the last year my extended family on my mother's side gathered at Christmas. With two infant members of the family it was guaranteed to be rough. Let's face it: babies always steal the show. Despite it all, I wasn't doing too badly until Sunday morning. The retirement community my grandmother lives at has a rotating set of ministers that lead Sunday services. (Mom's side of the family is Methodist.) My mother thought everyone was going to Sunday services. My parents, Husbandido, and I arrived a little late but found seats, only to discover that none of the rest of the family was there. Not finding Grandma or any other family members there set me on edge, then the title of the sermon put me on red alert, since it was "All About a Baby." I calmed down a little during the singing and the readings, but when the minister opened with "I don't even know if I should be giving this; it should be a woman who has given birth..." (It doesn't help that he's a terrible preacher.) He then launched into birth tales shared by his sister who was a midwife, and honestly, I could only take so much. I let Husbandido know that I was heading up to Grandma's apartment to see if that's were everyone else was. But at his opening statement, before I left, I thought about standing up. If I had stood up, this is what I would have said.

"I have never given birth, never felt the joy at a baby growing and moving inside me, but even though my only begotten child never lived to see the light of day, I have something important to say about Christmas. Christmas is all about a baby. But Christmas isn't about just any baby. If all we wanted to do was celebrate the birth of a child, we could do that any day of the year. The birth of a child is certainly a miracle, but it is an everyday kind of miracle. Christmas is about so much more: Christmas is about the birth of a child the likes of whom the world had never seen. Jesus Christ, born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, is the only child born who is fully human and fully God. God - a tiny infant, helpless. A tiny child who through His life would free all people from sin, who would ransom us from death. A child who through His humanity would claim us as brothers and sisters, no longer slaves. As we celebrate the birth of that baby, we must also remember the purpose for which He came and the price that He paid."

In 2014 we were in Arizona for Christmas, and Husbandido and I attended Mass at Our Lady of Joy. If the homily had a title, it would have been "A Baby Changes Everything." The priest began by talking about how his niece and her husband had just had a baby and all the changes their lives were undergoing. He talked about them coming to visit all the family in Arizona and how the lives of the wider family were also changed by this baby. Eventually he brought it around to the birth of Jesus, and how His birth changed the world and how it is calling us to change. I have to admit that I wasn't paying quite as much attention as I could have been during that homily because I was bound and determined to talk to that priest after Mass. I was trying to figure out exactly what to say. When Mass was over, I steered Husbandido to the line to speak to the priest. When it was our turn to speak to him, I said "Father, it isn't just a baby that changes everything; the inability to have a baby changes everything, too. Would you please pray for all couples suffering from infertility and miscarriage?" 

One year I ran; two years later I spoke up. What changed? Certainly context, but also me. I can't say it hurt any less, but I can say that by God's grace, I was strengthened. I could speak up not just for me, but for all of us.


  1. I STILL feel a twinge when I hear sermons like this. They mean well, but they don't understand. Women experiencing infertility and miscarriage are among the most forgotten, and it's so painful. Glad you spoke up, prayers for you and your family.

  2. Good for you, standing up for what's right! Sorry you had to experience those sermons in the first place.