Friday, December 27, 2013

Peer into the Light - A Message for Christmas Eve

I am afraid of the dark.

Really.  It's not a laughing matter.  

As afraid of the dark as checking-under-the-bed-and-making-sure-the-closet-doors-are-fully-shut afraid of the dark.

Afraid of the dark as being in the basement and turning the lights off and not looking back running out of breath up the stairs for fear of anything reaching out to me.

Afraid of the dark as never walking in a cemetery alone.

Afraid of the dark as the youth are who play sardines in the church building in the dark holding on to one another, jumping at each turn.

Afraid of the dark as turning on every light in the house when alone.

Afraid of the dark never locking myself in a dark bathroom.

I am afraid of the dark.

Yet tonight, gathered in the darkness, here we are.
Gathered to give thanks for the birth of the Christ child.
Gathered to greet this babe born in a manger.

And it's night.  And it's dark.  And I'm afraid.

Just a few days after the longest night,
the darkness still feels all-encompassing.
             The darkness is powerful and lonely;
                          it has a voice of its own.
Darkness seeping into my bones bringing fear.
              The darkness of the night that knows no bounds.  Darkness.

Darkness in our world where people are yearning for food and shelter.
              Darkness where too much violence and hatred is known.
                         Darkness in our shortsightedness and unwillingness to compromise.                
                                         Darkness in feeling completely at a loss.

A darkness not only found in the night and in lands far away,
           but a darkness that has been a part of our lives this year.

A darkness in community saying goodbye to beloved members.
A darkness in realizing that this Christmas is different;
              darkness in missing a family member.
                        A darkness in the heart yearning for forgiveness or the courage to forgive.  Darkness in the fragility of life.
Darkness in wondering what our callings in life are and whether we'll ever fit in.

And here we gather this evening, at night to greet the One who brings light into our world.  And we hear the words of scripture proclaimed to us, for us, remembering the night in which they first echoed:

Do not be afraid, for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  
to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  

Do not be afraid - the light has come into the world.

Do not be afraid - the light has come for you.

For even the wisest of men were drawn to search for the light and walked from lands far away.

For even the shepherds of the fields were greeted by a heavenly chorus of angels.

For even Mary and Joseph birthed the light into the world for each of us.

For even you and I, the light shines in the darkness.

So you ask, Pastor, are you still afraid of the dark?

Yes, I am.

But I am even more in awe of the light –
so in awe of this light that I can't help but bow down before the manger,
              drop to my knees at the foot of the cross,
                              and offer myself to the light.

I am afraid of the dark and equally in awe of the light that conquers all darkness,
that brings all people into its power,
         and reaches to the farthest depths to bring light to a world in need.

I am in awe of the light because nothing, nothing, can ever destroy its power.
A light and a love so great it is beyond human understanding.  

I am in awe of the light because it’s the only truth that will tell me my worth isn't bound to anything I do or accomplish or say, no, the light tells me I am loved for being a child of God.

I am in awe of the light because when I have lost my way and the determination to live,
the light brings me back into community where I am known and loved.

I stand in awe-some wonder of this light.

This is the gift of this night.
That the light, Jesus Christ, has come into the world.
Born in a manger for you and for me.
Born to be our savior.

Born to be light for the world so that nothing will bring us down and nothing will tell us we’re not good enough.

Born to be light for the world to know that we are each God’s beloved child.

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