Sermon For Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013

John 1: 3-5

“Discover the Light: The Light Is Christ – Let Us Celebrate!”

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ www.FranklinCircleChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher

Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~ Blog: https://nearwestclevepastor.wordpress.com

So in the weeks leading up to Christmas we have been exploring from different angles as well as scripture selections from the Bible how we can best discover the light of Christ.  Many of you received an invitation in the mail making that bold request: “Discover The Light Of Christ.”  “Why, was the light turned off?” you ask with a wry smile.  “Did the light somehow get lost?” you wonder rhetorically.  “Perhaps the church didn’t pay its electric bill?” you joke.

IMG_2723Nah, none of the above.  I know full well the injunction “Discover The Light Of Christ” says less about the light than it does about those of us who seek it.  God’s light, which flows through Christ and to us all, does not depend upon switches, payment plans, nor any human efforts.  Rather, those of us need the light all too often find ourselves in the dim shadows of life and need to be reminded of how we can re-discover the light and practice allowing it to bring its healing, warming, life-giving rays to our lives.

And that is what we have been doing these past four weeks in worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m.  The first week I tried to make the case that this light of God was something that has been bringing hope to our world since long before any of us creatures walked upon the face of it, and it will be bringing hope long after our last breath.  From the mythic stories of creation to the bright city at the end of all time the light of God shines brightly.  In the Christmas story Joseph could very well have focused on the negatives of what happened between he and his betrothed – and there were many – or he could do what he did do and that was focus on the positive, and that made all the difference in the world!

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The Franklin Circle Christian Church Choir

When we spend all of our time and energy anxiously fretting about how “those people” don’t honor the light of Christ enough, whether by pronouncing the God-forsaken phrase “Happy Holidays” or by how they don’t talk about Jesus enough, we risk missing Christ living, breathing, working, and laughing amongst us.  The first Sunday I encouraged us to relax, let God be the light, and celebrate the hope that knowing that eternal truth can bring!

The second week, as part of our more casual and contemporary Second Sunday Circle Celebration, we explored how light, whether the Light of God or the light that shines through yonder window pane, has a tendency to highlight our imperfections.  Light has no moral compass, it shines where it shines and where we are not where we wish to be.  Now for some of us, we respond by gravitating toward the light, and in its worst manifestation we become attention hogs and perpetual performers.  For others of us, we do our best to hide from the light, anxiously scurrying from closet to basement to the shadow of another.

So, in looking at Mary receiving the news that she would become pregnant with the Messiah, we saw someone who did neither, but instead peacefully, humbly, and confidently proclaimed, with God, all things are possible.  Likewise, when we recognize God’s light shines upon each of us wherever we are and whoever we are, then a peace that passes all human understanding can come upon us.

Ted Brogan reading "Twas The Night Before Christmas" to the children and youth.

Ted Brogan reading “Twas The Night Before Christmas” to the children and youth.

The third week we focused on the interaction between Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth, who had also become pregnant rather miraculously, for she was a very old woman.  Through these two women we became aware that sometimes light is not meant to calm, but to upset us.  Personally, many of us have had horrible, terrible, and tragic things happen to us that have turned our world upside down.  If we were honest with ourselves, oftentimes (not always) those events unearthed things that were not right all along.  In the world of first century Palestine there were many conditions and situations that needed to be upset, turned upside down and inside out: poverty, war, and inequality.  In our own world there are horrible things that we have become too complacent in bearing: sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, classism, ableism, and too much more.

Jim Robsinson, Music Director & Organist, Scott Posey, Soloist

Jim Robsinson, Music Director & Organist, Scott Posey, Soloist

The song Mary sang following her conversation with the angel, and then her cousin, shows an incredible willingness to take the life-changing news she had received and understand that in it God was working for good in her life, but more importantly, for the greater good of humanity.  True and deep joy can come if we persist in looking for possibilities in the midst of our problems, rather than problems in the midst of our possibilities.

Finally, two days ago, we shared the proposition that if something is Good News it must be proclaimed.  It is an act of love to share that which is good, noble, worthy, beautiful, and true in your life.  To keep such goodness inside or hidden out of the light is to not simply do a disservice to humanity, but to offend God.  Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, had been struck mute when he questioned the words of the angel that he and his wife would give birth to a son at their advanced age.  But once he understood that this confounding miracle was Good News for the entire creation as well as his family, his mouth was opened and he prophesized and proclaimed that the Love of God would be a light to illuminate all for the good of the world.

The Youth & Young Adults of Franklin Circle Christian Church sharing the Nativity Story on Christmas Eve. (Photo by Carrie Walker)

The Youth & Young Adults of Franklin Circle Christian Church sharing the Nativity Story on Christmas Eve. (Photo by Carrie Walker)

So tonight, we come to celebrate the light.  We do so with no need to curse the darkness, for God is the creator of all that is, light and dark and the shadows in between.  We come to acknowledge the light, and for those of us who follow the way of Jesus we see in Christ the most complete embodiment of light.  With the Gospel writer, John, we sing the song he sang, “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.”

Beloved, in the dead of winter we need to help one another and ourselves remember that the light, which is God’s hope, peace, joy, and love, can and will shine upon us if we but let it.  And may this light, which we know as Christ, shine through us to all whom we meet.  Amen

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