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The Light Shines -- Dec. 24, 2007 -- Jeanne Gay The Light Shines -- Dec. 24, 2007 -- Jeanne Gay

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   Discussion: The Light Shines -- Dec. 24, 2007 -- Jeanne Gay
Jeanne Gay · 10 years, 9 months ago

The Light Shines

Sermon preached by Jeanne E. Gay

December 24, 2007 (Christmas Eve)        Summit Presbyterian Church

Isaiah 9:2-7     Luke 1:46-56     Psalm 96     Luke 2:1-14


There’s something about Christmas, isn’t there?
There’s just something about Christmas.

Beyond the busyness and the commercialism … beyond the twinkling lights and the anticipation of what’s under the tree—there’s something. The children’s excitement, the family togetherness, the much loved carols, the familiar Bible story, the church’s candlelight service. We’re all here because of that something, aren’t we.

I wonder if, on that very first Christmas, Mary and Joseph felt that something. They’d certainly had busyness leading up to that night—a 90-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, walking and riding on a donkey. The distance is about the same as from here to New York, but oh, even at its worst, Amtrak has it all over a donkey on a dirt road cluttered with stones.

You know, the images we have of this holy family show them placidly plodding toward Bethlehem, calmly waiting to find that friendly host who will allow them to bunk with his animals … gazing at this newborn savior, taking in stride the angels and shepherds and such. But I wonder. Don’t you? Christmas carols invariably portray Mary as “mild”—have you noticed?—but I wonder if that’s because mild is such a good rhyme for child. (Someday I’m going to try to write a Christmas hymn referring to Mary as wild –what do you think?)

And Joseph, well. If you’ve seen the musical or the movie Chicago, remember when the husband sings “Mr. Cellophane”? “You can look right through me / Walk right by me / And never know I’m there” Yeah, that’s the way we often see—or don’t see—Joseph.

But I think Mary and Joseph were regular people, maybe feisty, opinionated people, people like you and me, regular people thrust into a pretty amazing situation and trying to make the best of it, trying to figure out what it meant. And here—wow—they’ve had a baby. A baby!

A lot of us have had babies come into our lives. We know the long months expectancy and then the hours of pain of labor and delivery—and then it doesn’t matter any more, because there’s a baby! And isn’t that something!

… and that’s the something about Christmas. There’s something about Christmas – and it’s a baby. Babies always mean hope for the future. Hope that something of us will live on, hope that humankind will continue. We look at a baby, and we envision the future. “What difference will this child make in the world?” we ask ourselves.

And don’t you think Mary and Joseph were asking themselves those same questions that night, lying exhausted and grimy from their long journey and a birth on top of it. “The angel said he’d be great,” Mary may have said. “Yeah, I know,” Joseph would have replied. And they’d look at this tiny newborn—probably wrinkled and red, with maybe a few tufts of hair sticking up on his head, his little fists clenched and his lips making sucking movements as he slept—and they’d wonder. “Son of the Most High … of his kingdom there will be no end.” Wow. Hope for the future, indeed.

And that’s one of the names we give Jesus—The Hope of the World. The hope that the world will be different, will be better. And the faith that says the world is different, is better, because of Jesus. The hope for peace. The hope that is light shining in the darkness.

In the darkness of tonight’s world—the sometimes fearful darkness in which people have stopped believing that war will end … or that food will come … or that a government will change … or that the Church will make a difference—The hope that is that baby, the Light of the World, comes to save us from death and despair.

In the quietness of the night—the sometimes fearful silence when the phone has not rung, the letter has not come, the friendly voice no longer speaks, the doctor’s voice says it all—The hope that is that baby, the Light of the World, comes to embrace us.[1]

In the quiet corners of our lives as well as on the bustling corners of our world, the hope that is that baby, Jesus, the Light of the World, comes to bring us to fullness … to peace … to joy.

There’s something about Christmas. Hope. The Light of the World.

[1] paraphrased from Katherine Hawker, “When the World Was Dark”

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