Christmas sermon

Lights are dimmed. It’s dark outside, the dead of winter. This night we gather to come close to something we struggle to put into words.

25th December 2020 Church News

Christmas Eve 2020

Lights are dimmed. It’s dark outside, the dead of winter. This night we gather to come close to something we struggle to put into words.

Christmas Eve carries memories of Christmases past. Some have been able to join with family. Others are alone with thoughts of family in their hearts and minds. We hold within us our hopes for the future and the blessings and pain of the past. This night we reach out for something deeper, more Real. We wrap our longing in carols.  We open our hands to receive a communion wafer. We open our hearts…and something happens. In the gaps between the words, in the silence of this night, our souls are renewed, and we step into Christmas Day with Hope.

There are no animals, no stable in John’s Gospel. No shepherds or kings, no Mary or Joseph, not even a baby. The apostle cuts to the chase to talk about God.

‘God’, says John, ‘refuses to shield Himself from the world.’ The light that shines does so ‘in the darkness’. The light that is the light of all people is eternally present in the world that He is forever creating. This is not a god shut off on the top of Mount Olympus or separate from us in a celestial blue heaven. No. From the beginning, God has been reaching out towards us. Have we not seen Him? Did we not notice Him as neighbours, friends, shops, surgeries, hospitals, emergency services, carers, care homes, relatives, churches, children, teachers and schools sought to help and to encourage and to love through this pandemic? Are these the accidental actions of a selfish gene or are they signs of a Life that pours itself into the universe bringing an inextinguishable light to all? Our God does not shield Himself from the world.

Our God refuses to keep His distance or wear a mask. He hides nothing: ‘Behold the man’. ‘Look: He is here’. ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Here: where the pain is greatest, where all seems broken and irreparable, that’s where He is most present. Not distant but here with us, in the mess of all that is not as it should be.

‘We have seen His glory’, says John. Not (for John) in the manger or in His teaching or His miracles but in His death.  ‘Here is your God’ – arms stretched wide to embrace everyone. Body broken…for everyone. This is Love distilled down to its very essence: a man on a cross. God for us, for God is Love’.

So we break bread together as we remember and receive Him. Gathered and scattered, all of us ‘children of God’ empowered to live Love as he did, as He does, as He always will do.  That ‘Christmas Eve moment’ we seek is God calling to us: ‘Live my life. Live my love so that others may see Christ’s glory made flesh in you.’ So be it Lord. Amen, be born in us today.

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