Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas Midnight Mass sermon


John doesn’t tell the story of something that happened a long time ago and is merely an occurence of the past—John writes about a light that shines in darkness. The darkness of time or place does not overcome the light that continues to shine.
This is the amazing thing about the Gospel. WE have walked in the darkness. We come from all walks of life. Some of us are old, some of us are young, some of us are people who have always lived in this place, some of us are transplants from another place, some of us are rich, some of us are poor, some of us have loved, some of us have loved and lost. Here’s what we all have in common—we have all walked in the darkness. Though it would seem that some of us have sinned in greater frequency or greater magnitude than others, we have all been born with something missing in our lives, a “God shaped hole in our hearts” as some people call it. Isaiah and John call it darkness.
But the good news is this, we have seen a great light, and furthermore, that Light comes to us to receive. Graciously, the Light has come toward us and continues to come toward us. As long as we reject the great filling light in our presence, we will continue to walk in darkness. As long as we refuse to forgive and love and share and make peace, that “God shaped hole” will continue to be a God shaped hole. Why? Because God loves us so much that God gave us freedom. The light is not invasive. It is persuasive, like a friend holding a candle toward you for you to light your candle on.
And if we do light our candle with the Light of God, IF we do allow our soul to be ignited with the awesome power of love and forgiveness and peace and sharing, our faces will become illuminated in the presence of the Living Christ. We will finally see ourselves and our neighbours as Children of God. This is the message that the Living Word would have us understand. After all of creation was spoken into being through the creative power of the Word and Breath in Genesis 1, there is a pronouncement that is as creative and life giving as our identity: God is happy with God’s creation and exclaims, “It is good!”
Yes, we are children of God from the very beginning, but we enslave ourselves to lesser parents. We walk in darkness and we look to other sources for parental comfort, don’t we? We make ourselves “Children of Exclusiveness” or “Children of Posessions” or “Children of Beauty” or “Children of Hollow Happiness.” Jesus says later in John’s gospel that “this is the judgment of the world, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light.” Why do we love the darkness rather than the light?
Because the light comes to earth in a feeding trough…The Light takes a cross on his back and asks us to as well. The Light asks us to change our direction in life. We fill the God shaped hole with other things, and we think we are full until the little cracks appear in our carefully tailored lives. God’s light continues to shine in our direction though, and it continues to come to us. All we have to do is dip our candle toward the one being offered to us. All we must do is dip our heads down and ask for forgiveness. All we must do is forgive others as God forgives us.
When we take on the light, our burdens are taken on by that little child laying in a manger. He is willing and able to carry our load. As things become lighter in our lives, we may even find ourselves sharing the light with others. We may turn to the person next to us and offer the Light of Christ to them.
In so doing, the brightness grows! God’s Kingdom is made manifest on earth, and more faces glow with the good news of the Word and Light. The very enactment of the Christmas story in our midst is shown in Our faces glowing in the candlelight as we sing hymns declaring the wonder and mystery of God’s humble birth. The Light becomes brighter through our sharing, and more people in the shadows are able to see it. But for us to share the Light and be the Living Christ, we must walk toward the shadows. This is what Christ exhibited in a life in which he was reprimanded by the “holy men” for going into the houses of tax collectors and prostitutes.
This birth that we celebrate today is not just a birth in a stable 2012 years ago, it is a birth waiting to happen. Every moment holds the potential for this birth because this birth is the birth of the Light in the world of darkness. The darkness cannot overcome it, and as long as we hold the candle of our faith in front of us, guiding us, we cannot be overcome. Even in dying, the martyrs of our faith were able to shed light on the darkness. As we gather to share this sacred meal together, let us imagine ourselves receiving the light just as we did as we lit our Christmas candle. We take this meal for the same purpose—to bring more fuel for the fire, to help the light shine brighter through our participation in the Living Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Light of God wants to enlighten your life because God wants you to know who you really are—a shining faced Child of God! Amen.

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