On November 12th of this year, three congregations co-ordained me, giving me a new name – Reverend Deanna Vandiver. On the morning of December 21st, Katherine Grace was born and I received another name – Aunt De!
Beloveds, that every child born could arrive so loved, so cared for as my beautiful niece, baby Kate… For so the children come into this world, into our lives, and we – we are called to love them enough to begin what Howard Thurman called the work of Christmas: “finding the lost, healing the broken, feeding the hungry, releasing prisoners, rebuilding nations, making peace among brothers [and sisters], making music in the heart.”
There is no such thing as “somebody else’s baby.” They are all our children, our beloved miracles of life to care for, to care about, and to commit to healing a broken world so that they may not suffer unnecessarily. As our nation grieves the death of the slain children in Newtown, CT, we are deeply aware of our accountability for their lives and the lives of all children who are harmed by violence and the devaluation of life.
Unitarian Universalist theology tells us that we are a part of an interconnected web of creation, related to and in relationship with each thread of creation. Our society tells us that we are isolated individuals, worth only what we can produce or inherit, and that violence is a credible response to violence. We tenders of the web of life know that violence increases alienation & fear, hides the connections we have to each other, allows us to become numb to the miracle of life, to the wonders of this universe.
My mother has a calendar of days in her bathroom. On the day my niece was born, the wisdom of the calendar instructed “Give people a piece of your heart, instead of a piece of your mind.” Navigating the dynamics of multiple families, hospital policies, and fear for my baby sister’s health with very little sleep, that nugget of wisdom was salvific for me. Life lived from a place of gratitude and wonder is very different from a life lived from a place of ingratitude, anger, and fear.
We who grieve the beloveds of Sandy Hook Elementary are also called to grieve the 800 “civilian casualties” of our country’s drone strikes in Pakistan in the last four years, for the children who are caught in cross-fire in our urban centers, for every child who has lost a parent in the endless US military actions. We understand that we are not called to stand on the side of love for some children. We are called to stand on the side of love for all children. No matter what we think about their choices, their policies, or their cultures, our hearts are called to honor the inherent worth and dignity of all creation.
Beloveds, each child that’s born is a holy child. You are a miracle. So is your neighbor. As we swim through the ocean of the universe, may we remember this wisdom born of a child called Jesus. Love your neighbor as yourself – and beloveds, love yourself – because if you cannot have compassion for the spark of creation that is your being, you will be able to deny compassion to other sparks of creation.
Give yourself and your neighbor a piece of your heart instead of a piece of your mind. See how quickly this begins the work of Christmas…
For so the children come, and so they have been coming for thousands of years…may each child born find peace and love in our hearts and good will toward all of creation as we commit to doing the work of Christmas.
For each child that’s born
A morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are