St. Mark's Episcopal Church

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Christmas 1 Sermon
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Rev. Lorraine Dierick

Only three short days ago we listened to the beautiful, traditional Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel--the long journey to Bethlehem, the birth of baby Jesus, a manger, choirs of angels, shepherds, and the Glory of the Lord shone over all.
 
Today we heard the Christmas story according to the Gospel of John, a story so very different from the others. As I read, it tends to set my head spinning. John writes with poetic symbolism, very spiritual in content and style.
 
This isn’t merely the birth story of Jesus, this is the birth story of all creation and beyond. In the beginning was the Word, in the beginning was the presence, the power and the purpose of God. All things came into being through the power of God. Then with the birth of Jesus, life and light came into the world for all people. The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth.
 
No angels, no manger, no shepherds, no Glory of the Lord shining on the Nativity. There is so much more in today’s reading; there is light, true light which enlightens everyone, everything, penetrating, permeating chaos and darkness. God’s presence revealed in the life of Jesus gives birth, brings forth true light to all humankind.
 
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.
 
This question was recently posed to a scientist, “What does it mean to you, a physician and Christian, that Jesus Christ is the light of the world? How do you suppose a scientist, physicist, Christian might respond?” Here was his answer, “Light itself is manifested in many forms, most of which we do not see. We focus on the visible light that illuminates the surface, forgetting that light penetrates beneath the surface. Light is not just a lovely rainbow, it is a transmitter and carrier of information. It is energy. Its awesome power can tear apart atoms, the very building blocks of creation. And even in the most remote regions of empty space there is light.”
 
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.
 
Years ago, I was in Alaska for my nephew’s December wedding. I snapped a photo of the sunset at 3:30pm as it reflected on the waters in the bay. Even in midday the sun is very low in the sky so that the light lasts only a few hours, yet as the sunlight sparkled on the snow-covered landscape it created a dazzling sight. During these long winter days, depression is often a troubling condition for many folks. Others welcome this time as a chance to see lights not normally seen—the moon, stars, planets, the aurora borealis (or northern lights). Where some see only darkness, others see light.
 
Darkness is a reality of human life, however. Yesterday in the early morning hours a life was lost in a tragic house fire here in Montesano. That person, Everett Davidson, always known as Bugsy, through his teen years served as acolyte in this church. There will be a memorial service here, but the time and day has not yet been decided upon.
 
In the darkest of times it’s hard to see any light. But scripture gives us the promise that Jesus is the light. And his “light will shine in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.”
 
Week by week with Christians of many generations we confess Jesus is, “God from God, Light from light, very God of very God, through whom all things were made. God has not remained a dark mystery. God is made known in Jesus, the true light that enlightens everyone.
 
We have the witness of scripture and tradition but that will be nothing more than words on paper unless we can answer that fundamental question. “What does it mean that Jesus is the light of the world?” We have to decide for ourselves whether we will live in darkness or whether Jesus will be our light—the one who makes all the difference, the one who provides the ground of deepest meaning in our lives.
 
Then, as followers of the light of the world, we are called to let that light shine through us to pierce the darkness of fear, anger, sadness, hopelessness. We can show forth that light in acts of kindness, charity, comfort, or reassurance.
 
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.
 
Remember how dark the days were during that last week of fall as we slogged through rain and wind? Then the barometer rose, sunlight again filled the days and at night, the brilliant stars filled the skies and that clear weather continues. As a special bonus we look forward to a blue moon, a second full moon in this month of December. Light does not avoid the darkness, but shines into it—in many colors, through many faces, across the world and for all times.
 
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.
 
 
AMEN
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