A light unlike any other shines brightly this morning. It isn’t a beam of winter sunlight like those crossing a floor, or a blue light sabre, or the last hours of colored lights dangling from windows and porches and off of trees, but a spark has been ignited, an ember smolders deep within, and it has been struck within you and me and all of Creation. All that’s required is fanning the flame with love, trust, and belief.
The kindling comes from a sentence as simple and as powerful as they come:
“In the beginning was the Word.”
This prologue continues the mystery and beauty of the Christmas story. We are invited to carry that mystery and beauty with us during the rest of the year, to move out of the dark spaces and corners in our lives towards the light that embraces, offers grace. John’s poetic language tells us that God wanted to lift us out of darkness so very much, that he did something deities and monarchs rarely do – God climbed off whatever throne we frail humans planted him on, and came down to our level. What’s even more amazing is that when God arrived, it was in the form of a helpless infant, born to common people, and as he grew into manhood he experienced the joys, sorrows, and delights of your average first-century Galilean — and inconceivable pain.
Why? Why did this extraordinary incarnation happen?
It was, as theologians have taught, atonement for humanity’s imperfect nature and actions, to bring us closer to God.
It was also for Love.
God loves us and went to a great deal of trouble to show us how it is to love perfectly and completely, and it was done in the form of Jesus, who is our light dispelling darkness.
It is a time of light; it started with the story of a child born in a manger and continues with healing, of power beyond belief, a fullness of being, of humanity receiving grace upon grace and to be blessed with the gifts God has bestowed upon us through Jesus.
Unfortunately, there were and are those who for whatever reason cannot recognize that Jesus is the light of the world and rejected the man and the message. But to those who accept him, then and now, and that is to say, put their trust in him, and made a commitment to the Word, a deeper relationship is formed with Jesus; he becomes our brother, and therefore, we become children of God.
Whatever darkness may envelop the world, whatever gloomy clouds may hang over us in our own lives, it cannot dim the light. We have grace from God to keep the light going. The smallest gesture of kindness, an act of compassion, or work of mercy will light up the life of someone else, and in turn, will light up the world.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
With Christmas, we embark on a journey in light towards a light unlike any other. I invite you, my sisters and my brothers, to keep the candle in your hearts and souls burning after the decorations and good will toward all are packed away, and carols are silenced for another year. Let every day be Christmas in our hearts.
There is no war on Christmas. There is a war on our diverse, creative, clever and intelligent society. We’ve been ducking salvos and mortar attacks of intolerance, stupidity, hatred, and bigotry, sexism and ageism since January 20, 2017, and I say we must, we absolutely must, keep up the resistance.
We have before us a new year with new possibilities, new hopes, and dreams. As with every New Year, there is a fresh canvas before us, waiting for us to apply the first brush stroke. A clean, smooth page in a journal waiting for our ink. What will we write for future generations? What colors will appear on the canvas? Do we want to live in light and experience the love and grace offered to us, follow a path of endless possibilities in a life in Christ, or is it going to be business as usual with grim, set, faces, preoccupied with matters that we have no control over and live in a dark time?
Come, let’s dispel the darkness and walk in the light that is our brother the infant in the manager, the man walking in Capernaum, in the Temple, and our savior on the Cross.