2nd Sunday of Christmas—A—January 5, 2014
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight oh Lord, our strength, and our redeemer.
On this, the twelfth and last day of Christmas, we read John’s Christmas story. It is not one marked by stars or dreams, shepherds or Magi, it does not mention Bethlehem or Nazareth. This is a more cosmic story, marked by light and birth…not only of Jesus but also the birth of each of us…as children of God.
Our new life in Christ is marked by light. Light that Christ brought into the world. Light that cannot be overcome.
The day after Christmas, my family went to Jordan’s to see the Hobbit: the desolation of Smaug. It was my first time seeing a movie there, so needless to say, I was a little excited about the 3D-Imax part. However, the scene that caught my attention the most, was not because of the effects, but because of the good news it made me think of. I don’t think I’m going to ruin any super important parts for anyone… There is a scene where the wizard Gandolf separates from the rest of the group and goes to check out the fortress where he believes an enemy is hiding. He gets there, casts a spell to undo the hiding spell that is concealing said enemy, and of course a dramatic face-to-face encounter ensues. Well as face-to-face as you can get with some un-embodied force of evil. At the climax of the battle, Sauron says to Gandolf: “there is no light, Wizard…that can defeat darkness.” This is spoken is some fantasy language, so it shows up as subtitles. That line, written so clearly, and since I am a geeky pastor, made me think to myself “obviously you have not read John’s gospel.”
This is the exact opposite of what we have heard read and preached throughout Advent and Christmas. We have heard time and again the promise of light and the life that comes with that light. Jesus was born not just to die as a sacrifice for our sins. With Jesus’ birth, by God taking on our own flesh and flaws and heartaches, light came into the world. It is that light that proves how much God love us
Nothing can conquer that love; no darkness can overcome that light, no matter what Sauron says. John says this in his gospel; we hear other places in scripture. But there was something powerful about seeing Gandolf enact it; it almost seemed like he heard me think “oh, but Sauron, you are so wrong.” As if on cue, Gandolf uses his staff to emit an orb of light around him. Sauron tries to encompass the light with his darkness, but you never lose glimpse of Gandolf’s light. At one point, the orb grows very small, barely big enough to keep Gandolf himself safe inside.
Human life too is never without hard times, when the light might grow dim, or its reach is smaller than normal, but even through those trials, Christ’s light remains with us, in us, shining through us to the world. For we are children of God, reborn not of blood, but of God. And so the light of the Word that was with God and that is God is part of us. And no darkness can conquer that light.
With the New Year, comes traditions and advertising telling us that it is time to make resolutions to better ourselves. And although it might be a smart idea for me to go to the gym more, or eat healthier, or whatever it may be. All the ads for gym memberships and weight loss programs can only be effective if they first convince you that you are not good enough. We let negative things like weight, age, wrinkles, marital status, socio-economic level define us. They might describe us, but the only truth that should actually define us is our description as children of God. Christ’s light shines on you, in you, and through you to others. It is how God’s love is transmitted through the darkness of this broken world.
And so I want to propose another resolution for all you. Even just for the next few weeks (you don’t even have to kid yourself that you are going to make it the whole year), I want you to take this slip, tape it somewhere where you will see it everyday…your bathroom mirror, your steering wheel, the coffee maker, your computer screen, wherever you want. And I want you to read it OUT LOUD to yourself every day.
“I am a child of God, deserving of love and respect,
and God will use me to shine light in the world.”
Some days you are not going to feel like a child of God…but you are.
Some times you won’t think you are deserving of anything good…but you are.
Occasionally, you might feel useless, surrounded by darkness, but no matter how small your orb of light might seem, no darkness can conquer it.
Christ remains with you. God still loves you. That light shines through you spreading that love and good news to others, who also sometimes feel swallowed by darkness.
So this New Year, I invite you to make a resolution to live a more Christian life, not by doing more charity or reading your Bible more, but by simply preaching a little good news to yourself everyday. For it is when you believe that you have light to shine, that God’s love will shine through you all the more, and all of us will glimpse a bit more of our too big for words, or one image, or one name God. Amen.