Christmas Eve Homily

++ In light of this morning's tragic incident in Webster, I considered modifying my message and our Christmas Eve service. Needless to say, our collective thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors, first responders and all those touched by this shooting and fire. After reviewing my message, it is my best justment to go with it as planned. ++

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Church

John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Prayer.

Bright are the flurries that flutter to the ground.

A candle’s light is captured by each

Splashing twinkle across the cosmic canvas.

Against the background of flat black,

The eye is caught by illuminated movement.

It focuses on the brilliantly lit details of

Snow’s divinely created beauty:

Unique ice crystals

So light they are easily swept and sculpted by winter’s frozen wind.

It all began in darkness.

Genesis tells us: “In the beginning …

God created the heavens and the earth.”

There was a formless void, sea, wind, and darkness.

John refreshes creation story: “In the beginning was the Word,” he says,

And the Word was with God,

And the Word was God.” 

The Word was Jesus.

All things came into being through Jesus.

(not just some things, all things)

Darkness didn’t last long.

Both Genesis and John come to the same place:

“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”

“What has come into being in him was life,

And the life was the light of all people.”

John’s analogy is clear:

The light and illumination of Jesus is to all people

As the sun is to the world.

Not one of us is so naive to believe that there is no darkness in the world.

Darkness is not bad, per se.

It is what can take place under the veil of darkness that is deeply troubling.

Darkness is void,

An absence of order, rule, or law;

Where Evil is drawn,

Like blood into a syringe,

To take up refuge safely away from prying eyes.

Yet, darkness is also a place where light can be brought.

A candle can be lit,

Behavior can be revealed, repented and redeemed.

Sun light shines in darkness when curtains are parted and doors are flung opened.

Jesus shines in the darkness, when he is invited in,

And the darkness does not overcome him.

Christ comes as the light of the world.

Yet, it is up to us to make certain his light shines.

Let’s be honest:

Too often we keep the light of Jesus Christ hidden under a bushel.

We keep Jesus confined to our personal faith;

At most, bringing him out for a shine on a Sunday morning.

We hide Jesus away when we take the occasional dip into the pool of sin.

We are afraid of revealing the light and love of Christ because

We fear what others might say about us,

How we might be mocked,

Or that we might be laughed at.

We hide the light of Jesus on Facebook and Twitter,

With our friends and at our work.

We are timid about unveiling the light of Christ

To the visitor we welcome and stranger we meet,

All-the-while complaining about the Evil of this world

And how it continues to thrive in the darkness.

On this Christmas Day,

We are called, like John,

To lift high the light of Jesus Christ,

That all the world might see his glory,

“The glory as of a father’s only son,

Full of grace and truth.”

Like a candle illuminating snowflakes,

Lift high the light of Jesus Christ,

To a world that is tired of Evil that hides in darkness.

When we testify to the Word,

When we live lives that reflect His love,

We bring His light into every single recess of darkness.

Darkness is gone

And sin shrivels and dies on the vine, as well it should.

Allow the birth of the baby Jesus to

Light your candle

And radiate the Christ that is alive and present in your life.

Stop complaining about the darkness of this world and

Use the light of Christ to end the dark!

Using the light of Christ reveals His glory, John tells us;

It illuminates the grace of God

And it reveals the truth about God.

The grace of God is this:

God loves you,

God wants the best for you,

God forgives you, and

God saves you.

This is what is revealed to the world when the light of Christ is allowed to shine

And is lifted up for all to see.

The truth about God is this:

You are free to choose.

Everyone is given the choice of accepting God’s grace

Or rejecting it.

We don’t have to argue with people.

We don’t have to convince them to believe what we believe.

The choice was God’s to give.

With our words and

By our actions

We are simply called to allow the light of Christ to shine in the world

And the rest we can leave up to God.

Dearly beloved members and friends of Zion

Light your candles.

Uncover them.

Raise them up for the entire world to see.

Eyes are attracted to the light.

Carry your candles from this service knowing

People of our world are tired of waiting.

The eyes of the world are worn-out by the dark.

Carry your candle

- Your witness

- Your example

And let all the world

See Jesus.

Amen.