On the eve of the Winter Solstice, God’s creation lets us know that the light always overcomes the darkness in the world around. And this means that it is almost Christmas with God’s message of light, hope and peace for us! On Christmas Eve we will proclaim that God’s light of love and life we know in Jesus shines into the darkness of our lives and world. And we will hear that great proclamation from the Prophet Isaiah, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.
The Falls Church Episcopal will be ablaze with light and beauty like no other time we gather. It’s cold and dark outside; it can be cold and dark in our lives, but we have seen a great light, and on us and our world that light always shines. Always! Ever!
The Christmas story captured so beautifully in Luke’s Gospel finds its meaning in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, also read during Christmas. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. …And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory…
Christmas lights that sparkle all around this time of year point to the light and life of God in Christ that brings life to all people. And so we who have beheld God’s incarnation in the birth of Jesus and celebrate that birth, not only at Christmas but in our lives and world every day, put up Christmas lights and light candles, piercing the darkness. Our lives, too, can pierce the darkness with love.
Did you notice during the season of Advent how the light kept getting brighter and brighter each Sunday until finally, on Christmas, the Christ Candle with its bright light is added. In my former Parish Church of the Nativity in Huntsville, there is a 20 foot tall Christmas Tree in the church covered in white lights that is lit on Christmas Eve (anyone see a pair of these in the Main Sanctuary in the future!?). The Nativity Christmas tree is really crooked and so out of shape and misshapen. It is so charming, but if I think about it, it is so real. This is the way the live Christmas tree always looks in the Anderson home. There are usually gaps in its fullness. We have to turn it until we get its best side, but it’s never really symmetrical. It does not have that perfect shape that many “fake” Christmas trees display.
Thinking about it, this is the way it is with our real lives—and not only with our physical bodies, but with our spiritual lives. Our lives are misshapen and often even unbalanced. We do not have that perfect shape that we often wish we had or that the market economy says we must have. We have our faults and our sins and shortcomings. But thinking about the Christmas trees we decorate with beauty and lights, the lights shining on these trees shine through the gaps and diminish the faults. I love our Christmas tree best at night when the shining lights transform it beautifully. The lights make it even splendid.
This Christmas, may we know that the light of Christ shining into our lives allows us to reflect a far greater beauty. Whatever darkness you may be feeling or you have known, allow God’s perfect love and light in Christ pierce that darkness. Know that the greatest message of Christmastide is that we have seen a great light and that light always shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. God’s light is shining on and through your life. And it is beautiful. Know that you are a splendid vessel of grace and of light.
What joy and mirth we can claim and celebrate at Christmas! I pray for God’s light and life in Christ to keep shining through you and through our life and ministry together at The Falls Church Episcopal. Wishing all a happy, blessed and joyful Christmas and blessings in the New Year of much light, love and peace.