Saturday, 26 December 2015
Sermon Christmas Day 2015
Our Gospel reading this morning is the wonderful account in the Gospel of Luke of the nativity of our Lord. It is good to note that it is only one part of the story. Did you notice what was missing? It tells us of the visit by the shepherds. But we have to turn to the Gospel of Matthew to another part of the story—the part which includes the wise men or Magi coming from the East. We have turned them into kings in our retelling of the story. The Gospel of Mark, the earliest account of Jesus’ life doesn’t even have tell us of the events of the birth. The Gospel of John takes a completely different approach. It gives us an account which is a retelling of the creation story. John tells us that Jesus—the Word was with God in the beginning:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
In essence, John gives us the big picture—the cosmology of the creation. I like that because I am the type of person who likes the big picture. I don’t do that well with details as Lorna will tell you. John does sum up for us that is important fact that with the incarnation the Light came into the world and the darkness did not overcome it; Jesus is the Light of the World.
Whenever I hear that passage—that truth, I am reminded of the hymn that was one of my favourites when I was growing up—Jesus Bid Us Shine:
Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
That hymn resonated with me when I was young. It resonated with me because it affirmed my desire to be in my small safe corner. I was and am a strong introvert. I found the world to be in many ways a big, mysterious place that I had trouble figuring out how to be in. It was much better for me to be in my own small corner where I didn’t have to try to figure out what my role was in the world. In my small corner I could let my light shine. However, As I grew older I discovered that in my small corner my light didn’t shine that brightly and I realized I had to come out of my small corner and be in the world.
Out of my small corner, I discovered that the light of my candle could join with other lights and become a much bigger light that will enlighten the world. There is a movie made a long time ago—in 1940—that I saw on TV when I was young that illustrates.
The movie, Young Tom Edison starring Mickey Rooney. It is, as the title suggests, the story of the life of the young Thomas Edison the inventor. In one scene Tom’s mother is very ill and needs an operation to save her. The old country doctor says he can’t operate because there is not enough light in the home (there were no hospitals in the area and the only source of light in the home was oil lamps. Tom, being the inventive young man he was, realizes he can solve the problem. He breaks into the general store and steals a full length mirror. He sets it up in the dining room and places all the oil lamps in front of it. The mirror focuses the disparate light from all the lamps and reflects one brilliant light onto the table where the doctor is able to operate on his mother. Of course she is saved and little Mickey—sorry Tom— is the hero.
I don’t know if this story is a true event in the life of Thomas Edison but it contains the capital t Truth just as the nativity stories of Matthew and Luke and John contain the Truth of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. We each can light our little candles in our small corners. However, if we come together as the Church, the body of Christ our lights will join together and be reflected through the mirror of Jesus Christ. That light will be the light of Christ and will enlighten the world.
As it says in the Gospel of Matthew, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid”. Let us be the light of the world and let our lights so shine that the world knows that Jesus Christ, the Light of the World is born today. Hallelujah.