May you have a Blessed Christmas and a wonderful year to come!
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
Sermon – The Eternal Christ Child
Imagine this: once, there was only darkness. The darkness was eternal and seemed to have no beginning and no end. In that darkness, there was a sound – the sound of Creation. The Voice of God. Some religious traditions believe that the sound of Creation is a harmonic tone; perhaps a song. Perhaps the song had existed forever. Then out of the darkness emerged something new. Something brilliant. Something never before imagined. God said, “Let there be light,” and the light was as eternal as the darkness before it.
John tells us that when the sound of Creation was uttered, the Son was there, with the Father. With the Father and Son, so also must the Holy Spirit have been Present, for Father, Son, and Spirit are one. John writes that “without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Have you ever felt that you were living in a darkness so opaque that nothing could penetrate it? I think that we all have times in our lives when everything seems hopeless. I can imagine that parents who lose a child live in that kind of darkness for a time. When we lose siblings, parents, or spouses, no matter what time of our life we are in, we reside in darkness, if but for a moment. When the hopes that we have for a job or a home or a love or a family fall through, when dream bubbles burst, it sometimes seems that we will never be able to see the light again. Without hope, we become blind to the possibilities that are before us. Even though our God is a God of all possibilities, there come times in our lives when we cannot see the opportunities ahead. There are times when we stand in the dark, feeling alone, unloved, forgotten.
But – did you hear the message of Creation? “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” The Darkness did not overcome the Light! No matter how dark it seems, there is always some light, somewhere. Even the smallest amount of light can remind us of God’s promise of hope. Sometimes we find that hope in the places where we are broken. Recently, Pastor Rosemary quoted poet Leonard Cohen’s words, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” We don’t need a lot. We don’t need perfection. Sometimes, though, we really have to look for it. In our deepest despair, we have to make an effort to see the light. But the Good News is – we don’t have to do it alone!
Tonight we celebrate another night, long ago, when God came to give us hope. It’s hard to make it through the night without the light; so God sent the light to us, in the form a little baby.
I recently read that in medieval times, as midnight drew near, all the church bells in England, Scotland, and Wales would be rung in a slow, mournful death knell. They were ringing the bell for the devil’s funeral. You see, they believed that the devil died at midnight, the very time of Jesus’ birth. In those days, the hope in Christ was palpable and very real. Today, there are so many explanations for our experiences and we live in so much artificial light that it might be difficult to understand how real the fear of the dark was for those people in medieval times. For them, the message of the Light of Christ was a true miracle! Stories of angels bending toward the earth, speaking to shepherds about God’s incarnation were easy to believe, easy to accept as fact.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ Child, can we recapture the sense of innocent wonder of a less jaded time? Can we catch the sense of eternal hope that God has given to us? Can we hear the angels’ song?
And can we, like the shepherds, see the Glorious Babe held in the Arms of His Blessed Mother? He is there! He is real! He is the hope of the world, the Savior of all humankind.
Darkness has tried to overcome humanity many times throughout history, yet in our resilience, we continue, don’t we? This isn’t by accident, of course. By God’s design, we have an ability to see the light in the darkest night, through the very slightest crack. God has written into our hearts the very Song that is sung by the angels! ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’ Christ is born this day! Let us welcome Him into our hearts! Let us join in the Song of Creation!
Venite, adoremus! Come, Let Us Adore Him! Amen.