Are all babies holy?
“So the baby will be born holy…”— Luke 1:35b
If we consider all babies are born holy, what difference would we see in the world? If all babies are born holy, what love would grow in places where there is no love at all?
When called to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must know the word love or evil continues to permeate.
Oh, and about evil, this sermon prep isn’t about when—or how—evil enters (or has entered) the human condition, the human soul. That’s a discussion for another time. This prep is about seeing a baby born holy and the impact that birth—that holiness—has had on the world.
It is true, great atrocities have happened in the name of Christianity. Some of these were recently sited when a woman explained to me why she does not attend church, but the hinge to Christianity is this: holiness came to earth through God in the flesh, and I believe holiness has—and continues to come to us on earth—through babies.
Now let’s talk about babies for a moment. The first baby born on earth was Cain. When anger and jealousy later fell upon Adam and Eve’s firstborn, the Lord asked Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it (Genesis 4:6-7).” Cain did a horrible act in killing his brother Abel, but was Cain holy (at least at one time)?
This next birth narrative is quite scandalous. Isaac was Abraham’s second son, Sarah’s first. As this story unfolds, Isaac is prepared and taken out by his father to be a sacrifice offering. God blesses Abraham’s obedience and spares Isaac by providing an unblemished lamb in Isaac’s place just in the Knick of time. Was Isaac holy?
Here’s yet another baby story. Moses was sent down the river in a basket. The mom who would do this protected her newborn from Pharaoh who was killing all Hebrew males. Baby Moses was found by a loving Egyptian woman, the daughter of Pharaoh. Moses clearly made some wrong decisions early in his life, but was he holy?
And then, after a prophetic silence of 400 years, here comes New Testament John. Elizabeth is seemingly too old to become pregnant to this the one who prepared the way, yet it happened. John was born with the spirit of God upon him. Was this hot-headed social outcast holy?
You can argue that Cain, Isaac, Moses and John were not holy. You can add that Mary was not holy, and, while you’re at it, you can say her husband’s descendant, David, was not holy either. As with Moses, you can prove David’s un-holiness. You can argue that only Jesus was holy because the Luke 1:35b goes on to say that this baby Jesus will be called the Son of God.
But what if holiness isn’t contained to just one infant? As I prepare to baptize a baby tomorrow, a miracle baby if you ask me, and someone nearby even thinks this baby isn’t holy, yikes, get ready to hear me roar. I can’t claim who is holy and who is not. That argument is a waste of time when what we could—and should—be doing is not debating but letting love be claimed, known, shared, and lifted.
I am tired of hurtful headline news. I can gab about it like many of us do, or I can encourage you to love all of God’s holy children, including yourself and that neighbor I mentioned earlier.
I am going with Option B here, and I call it the Love Route. It’s the road that sees the holy in others. There may or may not be a bright and guiding star overhead on this journey, but join me. I don’t want to walk alone.
PRAYER: Lord, help us, remind us, or completely redirect us to see the holy in the child…I mean…the holy in all children (and adults). Amen.
This photo is by artist Jennifer Hickley.