Alan Neale

Writer • Speaker

Sermon “Jumping Into Messy Puddles.” Christmas Day 2016. Trinity Church, Newport RI. The Reverend Alan Neale

Watching innumerable episodes of “Peppa Pig” I think the “Muddy Puddles” is one of my favorites. Our Lord delights jumping right into the “messy puddles” of life bringing joy and friendship and purpose.

Below is the sermon audio and below that the text.

Sermon Preached at Trinity Church, Newport RI
Christmas Day 2016
The Reverend Alan Neale
“Jumping into Messy Puddles”

Hebrews 1:1 (best read in the King James’ Version) “1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…”
Before ever the Verizon jingle (“Can you hear me now”) was made popular, this was God’s plaintive call. It begins in the early chapters of Genesis (“’Where are you?’ called the Lord God” – Genesis 3:9) and continues through page after page of Scripture. Although the Verizon man (Paul Marcarell) switched to Sprint in June of this year!
“At sundry times and in divers manners God spake in time past… (but) now he has spoken unto us by his Son.”

At a Christmas, seemingly long ago, I presented a talk at a Family Service in a stone chapel not too far from here. I brought into the nave a step ladder, climbed the ladder. I explained I wanted to share light with the children below. I took a lightbulb, wrapped it carefully and dropped it… the bulb, thank goodness, smashed and served no purpose. I tried this a few times and then asked the children how I could get the light to them… they shouted, “Come down the ladder”. I did and presented the light with care and without damage.
Now you’re bright people, you see the point… the most safe, secure, effective means to share the light was to come down to where the children were standing. And so, simply and yet so profoundly, is the message of Christmas.

The eternal cosmic Word leaves behind His dwelling with the Godhead and, in the magisterial words of John 1:14, “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

This is no longer a reliance upon messengers and mail delivery, it is no longer a reliance upon written word and weighty tomes, it is no longer a reliance upon institutions and institutes – these things may be helpful but we now live in a time when the divine supremely relies upon incarnation, “and the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Such divine wisdom is sometimes translated into political acumen as politicians descend from starry heights of Congress to “press the flesh.” Urban Dictionary comments, “it means to make contact with the voters by means of personal skin to skin contact, such as shaking hands and kissing babies. In a general sense it implies getting out and getting in the face of as many different voters as possible because if they meet someone they’re probably more likely to have a positive opinion of them than the candidates that they didn’t meet in person.”

Though some have done their best to bring orderly tidiness and sweet aroma to the stable, we know it was doubtless noisy and malodorous – but there “the word became flesh.”

Though this season is adorned with lights in various shapes and diverse colors, we know it was into the darkness of cruelty and fear “that the word became flesh.”

Whatever our mess, whatever our darkness – “the word becomes flesh.” Oh, my friends, this is the joyous message of Christmas that can change the world beginning with the change of our own worlds.

And our God jumps right into the “messy puddles” of life.

Years ago I was told the story of a young girl who became fearful of sleeping in the dark. One night she was screaming and her parents came to the door. They talked with her and gave her favorite doll for her to hold. She became quiet and they started to leave but then she said, “This won’t help me, because when I am afraid I want someone with real skin on their face.”

Isaiah 52:10 “The Lord has made bare his holy arm”, real skin for real challenges.

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh”, real skin for real fears.

Thanks be to God. Amen