>A light unlike any other shines brightly this morning. It isn’t a beam of winter sunlight like those crossing a floor, but a spark has been ignited, an ember smolders deep within, and I believe it has been struck within me, within you, and you – all of us. All that’s required is fanning the flame with love, trust and belief. That kindling comes from a sentence as simple and as powerful as they come:
“In the beginning was the Word.”
It has been said that the the Gospel of John, the prologue to which you have just heard proclaimed, is a summary of Christian life — conversion, baptism, Eucharist and quest for higher spirituality. It is a revelation of the true identity of Jesus and his connection to God. It has been called an apologia written in a time when the Johannine community was divided over the question of Jesus’ divinity. Or it is all of these.
This prologue continues the mystery and beauty of the Christmas story. We are invited to carry that mystery and beauty with us during the rest of the year, to move out of the dark spaces and corners in our lives towards the light that embraces, offers grace. John’s poetic language tells us that God wanted to lift us out of darkness so very much, that he did something deities and monarchs rarely do – God climbed off whatever throne we frail humans planted him on, and came down to our level. What’s even more amazing is that when God arrived, it was in the form of a helpless infant, born to common, yet uncommon people, and as he grew into manhood he experienced the joys, sorrows and delights of your average first century Galilean — and inconceivable pain.
Why? Why did this extraordinary incarnation happen?
The obvious answer is atonement for humanity’s imperfect nature and actions, to bring us closer to God.
Here’s a better answer.
God loves us and went to a great deal of trouble to show us how it is to love perfectly and completely and it was done in the form of Jesus, who is our light dispelling darkness.
I used to call the days after Christmas Day the dark time. This started when I was a little girl and continued until I began to understand the difference between darkness and light where it concerns God.
Why did I call it the dark time? Christmas was over – Christmas trees were kicked to the curb; gone were the shiny decorations, the bright, colored lights, the fake snow in a can, the Glass Wax snowflake stenciling on the windows, the endless carols on the radio stations – the happy season of peace on earth and good will towards all was torn off the block of calendar sheets for another three hundred and sixty four days. It seemed to me, and this is my humble and personal observation, that the smiles on the faces people from Thanksgiving to Christmas, that look of expectancy, the sounds happy greetings and optimism, faded and people looked grim, worried, preoccupied – again.
The dark time was upon my world.
But, like so many other times in my life, I was dead wrong.
No, it is really a time of light; it started with the story of a child born in a manger, and continues with healing, of power beyond belief, a fullness of being, of humanity receiving grace upon grace and to be blessed with the gifts God has bestowed upon us through Jesus. Unfortunately, there were and are those who for whatever reason cannot recognize that Jesus is the light of the world and rejected the man and the message. But to those who accept him, then and now, and that is to say, put their trust in him, and made a commitment to the Word, a deeper relationship is formed with Jesus; he becomes our brother, and therefore, we become children of God.
Whatever darkness may envelop the world, whatever gloomy clouds may hang over us in our own lives, it cannot dim the light. We have grace from God to keep the light going. The smallest gesture of kindness, act of compassion, or work of mercy will light up the life of someone else, and in turn, will light up the world.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
With Christmas, we embark on a journey in light towards light. I invite you, my sisters and my brothers, to keep the candle in your hearts and souls burning after the merchants and high rises have packed away the decorations and silenced the carols for another year. Let every day be Christmas in your hearts. In just a week, we will embark on a new year with new possibilities, new hopes and dreams. As with every New Year there is a fresh canvas before us, waiting for us to apply the first brush stroke. Do we want to live in light and experience the love and grace offered to us, follow a path of endless possibilities in a life in Christ, or is it going to be business as usual with grim, set, faces, preoccupied with matters that we have no control over and live in a dark time?
Come, let’s dispel the darkness and walk in the light that is our brother the infant in the manager, the man walking in Capernaum, in the Temple, and our savior on the Cross.