Christmas Eve Sermon
The Rev. Peter M. Carey
24 December 2011 – Isaiah 9:2-7
The dark is extinguished, and the light shines. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. We remember the light that came into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ. But we do not merely remember, like some hazy photograph; some grainy 90mm film shown in the living room. No, this is not a memory hidden in the past. No, this is not a memory that will fade when our own memory of it fades. This is remembrance that happened in the past, but this is remembrance that continues today. The incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ happened those 2000 years ago, but the incarnation of God in our world is a happening that happened even in the beginning of the world and is a happening that happens today, and every day.
This is a day when we remember the light that came into the dark world, and when we also recognize the light that is enlightening the world always. If you merely close your eyes, you will see some darkness, but even now, in this place, in this glowing place of light and life, even our eyelids cannot shut out the light of these candles, lovingly arranged here for us. No, our eyelids cannot shut out the light of these mere wicks and wax. The light of these candles shines, even in the midst of the darkness of this night. And so, also, the light of Christ shines, and could not be extinguished by small-minded people of his time, or by the petty darkness of our world; and cannot be covered by the machinations of the things of the world.
The light of Christ has shined with celestial brightness, filling the world with its light.
We began Advent praying to God, “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light” as we prepared, once again, for God’s in-breaking into the world. We began Advent by asking God to help us prepare for Christ’s coming, and to help us move into that place where we could, with Mary, “ponder these things in her heart.”
We also prayed that God would give us the wisdom and vision of John the Baptist as he saw that something entirely new would enter the scene. The people went out there to the wilderness and thought they had reached their destination, but John was not the destination, but a mere signpost along the way. He pointed to one that was greater than himself, and he pointed to the true light that would come into the world, and who would baptize us with FIRE and the Holy Spirit.
And so, with our companions Mary, who pondered, and John the Baptist, who prepared, we have walked the dark pilgrim road of Advent, pondering and preparing. We have walked the way of Advent while we also have put on the armor of light. We have looked deep within to find the hope and joy that God has given us, and we have projected our own bit of light into the world so that others could see a bit of the light of Christ.
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine let it shine let it shine.”
The light shines, even amidst all those things of the world that aim to blow it out, or cover it, or wash it away. Our light shines because the light of Christ shines.
Our own light is much like one of these candles, but it is not a mere candle with a wick that can burn away, and it is not a mere bit of wax that can burn into oblivion. Our own light our own life, is given to us on this night. Our own lives are given to us, they are gifts, as the gifts that we might open tonight or tomorrow. Our own lives are gifts given to us by God, our own lives are energized the light of Christ, that has flowed into the world. Our own lives are empowered by the ever-flowing energy of God, the every present goodness, love, and mercy of God, ever flowing, ever empowering us, ever present with us.
On this dark night, let your light shine. On this dark night, let the light of Christ warm you, give you life, and light, and hope in the darkness. Let the light of Christ give you joy and peace and love, so that you can share that light with the world. Put on the armor of light, for God has cast away the works of darkness, and filled the world with celestial brightness. May we see it, may we be it, this night, and evermore!