Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV)
2 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.
3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.
If you listen to the news media and politicians (especially those running for office) you might think our world is in a very dark place right now…
While there is much darkness in our world, it is good to remember that things are not as dark as they are made out to be, remember that the news runs on ratings, and that some politicians believe that stirring up are fears are a sure way to get votes. Despite mass shootings, terrorist attacks and wars, despite the financial collapse, racism, and the very public culture of contention that has grown up around us, these are just dark spots in a world that is growing increasingly brighter!
We have embraced those who society once turned away, treating addiction and mental illness as the diseases they are, reaching out to help the poor and homeless through contributions of our talents and resources, supporting the belief that loved shared between two people in a committed relationship should be celebrated and not condemned, and in honoring the choice of those who feel they were born in the wrong bodies and are doing something to change their lives. And, while we still have a long way to go, we are at least talking about the scourge of racism, and intolerance for those of other faiths.
As a people, most of us are reaching out to help those struggling with diseases, in favor of ensuring that a major medical issue will not lead to financial ruin and the choice between medicine and food. We are also standing up and working to eliminate threats such as global warming, war, domestic violence, crime and terrorism. In many ways, it could be argued that the darkness in our world stands out so much because of the light that is growing in our midst!
Today at Christmas, we celebrate the light that shines in the darkness, the light of God’s great love for us, given as a gift through Jesus. As God is so incomprehensible to us, that there is no way for us to reach up into the heavens, God comes to us in the only way we can begin to understand, through a baby laid in a feeding trough, born to poor, unwed parents among the livestock.
The spark of new life that changed the world, and continues to do so today!
As parents, we know how children can affect our lives in ways that we could never have imagined before becoming parents. Being responsible for another life changes who we are, how we live, and how we relate to the world around us! With every birth, there is joy and hope, but also fear, because we can never be sure where this adventure will lead us! For instance, I never thought that I would wind up as a single parent, raising my daughter into adulthood, never thought I could do it, but I did…with a lot of help of course! Along with the love that I have for my daughter, it was this help that served as a light in the darkness of my struggles as a single parent, a light that continued to lead the way as my daughter and I traveled the difficult road through the teen-aged years and into adulthood.
This light that helped me through the darkness was the same light we celebrate today, at Christmas: the light of God’s love, shared through the love and compassion of others, who offer us support and hope, and restore our faith that we are never alone, never beyond the hand of God, and that the darkness has no power over us, or our children! This is the light that not only guides us to the promised Kingdom of God, but which also lets us see how God’s Kingdom is growing in our midst, as the good news of Jesus: that God loves us so much that He came to live with us, as one of us, to free us from the darkness of ourselves and our world!
It is this light that shines in all that we do: from the love we share with our children, and those close to us, to the compassion that we show to the world, as we share the good news of Christmas, today and every day!
Let us Pray:
Dear God, thank you for the great gift of love given to us at Christmas, for coming to us in the only way we could understand: as a poor baby laying in a manger! Please help us to shine the light of Christmas with our children, and the world in all that we do…as we share our experience, strength and hope with each other! For wherever that light shines, the Kingdom of God becomes more present, right here, where we are, reminding us just how bright our world has become!