Christmas Meditation 2019
When I was driving here this evening, in the dark with a fog, I was reminded of a trip I took with my son.
Back in 2003, I took AJ on a college visit.
We were going to Poughkeepsie, New York.
When we got to Poughkeepsie and got off the highway, we were plunged into a world where the only lights were the headlights of the cars.
It was the night the power went out all over the northeast United States.
It was really dark.
No street signs.
No business signs.
And we were looking for our hotel.
We could not see anything off the side of the road.
We drove aimlessly for a long time and only by the power of young eyes did we finally glimpse the sign.
And we still had trouble finding the driveway.
That is what the darkness is like.
It is driving aimlessly and without any direction or hope of seeing any markers.
It is terrifying.
When you walk in the darkness that is what your life is like.
No points of orientation.
To find our way we need directions.
We need landmarks.
We need light.
One of the things we do each Christmas is to ponder the incarnation through lessons and carols.
One of the things we read is this from Isaiah:
2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
Our lessons and carols are the story of that light.
Our lessons tonight started with Genesis and the fall from grace in the garden and the promise that one would come to restore us to God’s grace.
We heard the prophecy of Isaiah that the promise would come in the form of a child who would be born for us.
And that the child would be “Wonderful counselor! Mighty God! Everlasting Father! Prince of Peace!”
We were told of Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of that child and her acceptance.
We were reminded of the journey to Bethlehem and the birth of that child who was named Jesus.
We heard of the angels’ announcement and the shepherds visit.
And then we are taught what it all meant by John.
Light was coming into the world.
The light was Jesus.
Jesus was God.
God came here.
God – Jesus – Light.
But this was not the first time the light came.
To really understand this, we need to go back to the very beginning.
In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2the 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. 3Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
The first thing God did was to shine light into the formless void.
The light was good and separated what it illuminated from the darkness.
Humanity lived in the light and walked with God.
But humanity chose to step out of the light.
Into the shadows.
And humanity was diminished.
The darkness overcame us.
We were lost.
What does our darkness look like?
It looks like many things.
Jesus lists some.
There are others.
Everywhere we look people are fighting over land, wealth, power.
So many trying to be God.
This is the darkness.
We cannot see a way out.
And we are afraid.
So, our fear makes things darker.
It has been cycling this way since Eden.
But there can also be a personal darkness.
We all have some of that.
What we want is a bit of light.
For the world.
And as we learned in our lessons this evening, God gave it to us.
God started over, in a way.
In the form of a child.
A child with the power to drive the darkness away.
The one Luke tells us about.
6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us … He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.
The one John was talking about.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Jesus was that light.
The same light that illuminated creation at the beginning.
And illuminated us again in Jesus.
The incarnate God.
God – Jesus – Light.
It is the Christmas gift.
A light that we can rely on to shine into our shadows and show us a better way to live.
The Jesus way.
Feeding the hungry.
Giving water to the thirsty.
Clothing the naked.
Comforting the sick.
Visiting the prisoners.
Welcoming the strangers.
Loving each other.
And that light, the Jesus light, the light we let into our lives to encourage us to live the Jesus way cannot be overcome by the darkness.
Once there it remains there.
Encouraging us and empowering us and restoring us to God’s grace.
Jesus is the true light.
The light for all people.
The light that enlightens all people.
And all people been invited to live in that light, in the presence of the living God.
Which is why many of us are here.
We are here looking for a better way to live in a dark world.
And it is this child we gather around tonight seeking refuge.
This sanctuary is now the stable.
We are the shepherds and townspeople and kings who surround the child.
We plead to the child.
“Help us find our way!”
“We want the peace that being in your light offers.”
And it is good that we are all here.
Because it is this child who will lead us out of this present darkness and into the light of the Kingdom of God and his salvation.
This child was born to say:
I am the light.
I am shining in the world as an example of what is good and true.
That is the darkness.
That is where there is no truth and there is no goodness.
Over there in the darkness there is death.
But here in the light there is life.
The choice is yours.
This is the way out.
Those who want to find a better way, follow me.
Follow me and live.
I have come to give you sanctuary in the Kingdom of God.
Where you will be reconciled to God.
Where you will have peace.
I have come to take you there.
And here we are.
Gazing at the child.
Looking at our salvation.
God is with us.
But we still have a question for him.
“Why would you do such a thing?”
‘For God so loved the world that he [sent me] his only Son, so that everyone who believes in [me] may not perish but may have eternal life.”
‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
The birth of this child gives us this.
We experience forgiveness and grace through this child.
We are taught how to live by this child.
We are reconciled to God through this child.
We are taken into God’s presence with this child.
And this child of hope comes to us every time we need him most.
So take a moment.
Consider the Creator who shined the light at creation.
Consider the baby who brought the light back to us.
Consider the light that pushes the darkness away.
It is the basis of hope.
It is the source of peace.
It is the springboard of joy.
It is the illumination of love.
That light is shining.
Come and live in the light with the baby.
Jesus Christ our Lord.