Sermon: Christmas Day – 25th December 2014

St Alban’s Anglican Church Epping 8am

Readings:  Isaiah 62: 1-12  Psalm 97   Titus 3: 4-8a  Luke 2: 1-20

With all the evident evil that we have witnessed in recent weeks we can think that we live in a dark work, an evil world. What with the killing of those school children in Pakistan, the murder of the children in Cairns, the siege in the Lindt cafe, the seizing of many people in Africa and many other horrific episodes, but, with all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. In Genesis we read,

“God saw everything that God had made and indeed it was very good.”

What we are celebrating is the festival of the Light of Christ coming into the work; the theme of light runs through the celebration of Christmas. Everywhere you go at this time of year, be those places secular or religious the concept of light is the common emphasis. Stars twinkling in shops, Christmas lights decorate homes and trees. At Christmas carol services it usually is understood that there will be candles. We had many here last Sunday evening and we have not quite so many here today.

Many of the readings that we have this morning and at all the other services of the celebration of Christmas, last night and today, refer to light and the effects of light. For example;

“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.” Isaiah 9

“An angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Luke 2

“Light dawns for the righteous.” Psalm 97

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. 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.” John1

The celebration of the birthday of Christ is all about God’s light coming into the world in a very special way. This is a beautiful, if somewhat difficult world at times and so we need special insight into living our life the best manner that we can because we only get one shot at life.

Jesus is the great light. If we follow the teachings of Jesus, God’s Messiah, then we will have a beacon to aid us step into the next unknown moment. The philosophical concept of existentialism reminds us that we live in the moment. Our life is always lived on the edge of an abyss. The apostle Paul said that no one has all the answers. He said that; “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) None of us have all the answers. Faith is about things unseen. As it says in Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Uncertainty is the norm for everyone.

We are constantly stepping out into the next unknown moment. We all have to be continually making decisions about the next moment as life comes our way. No one else is able to do it for us, although we would love them to. Part of our essential humanness is our freedom to make decisions for ourselves. In this world of exponentially increasing rate of change, it can be a very daunting task to determine what we are to do. The light of Christ guides us to the understanding that while we can’t be in control as we would like to be we can be guaranteed that where we go the Light of Christ will be there to assist no matter how frail our faith maybe. It maybe the darkest night of our existence but God in the form of Christ comes to light our path and to give help and assistance.

The light is there all the time. We only have to reach out to the person whose birth it is we celebrate today and he will share our troubles. They may not go away, but we can be assured that we will have the special insight that Jesus gives to deal with the difficulty. We are lifted up and put on higher ground.

An extension of the help that Jesus gives us is that we too can bring the light to others in Jesus’ name. By allowing the Christ Child to be born in us this Christmas, we can help others to be healed of the maladies, indispositions, fears and misgivings that inflict them in their experience of darkness of their life.

Remember the light of Christ is for all people and that we too must let that light shine through us and into the lives of all whom we touch. Christmas is about the freedom that the light that Christ brings. Remember the old children’s hymn.

“Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light;

Like a little candle burning in the night.

In this world of darkness, so we must shine –

You in your small corner and I in mine.

 

Jesus bids us shine then for all around;

Many kinds of darkness in this world abound –

Sin and want and sorrow; so we must shine –

You in your small corner and I in mine.” [1]

 

“Let your light shine before others…”[2]

 

The Reverend John Cornish

 

[1] Susan Warner, Verses 1 and 3, Number 684 Golden Bells, Scripture Union and CSSM, London
[2] Matthew Chapter 5 verse 16.