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December 31, 2023 “The Light”

December 31, 2023 “The Light”

Colleen Swope

+ In the name of the Creator that loves us all –  

When last we met, it was end of our Liturgical year looking toward the beginning of Advent and our new year.  Today is the end of the secular year. Some of us are making goals, resolutions etc.  I personally don’t do resolutions or strict goals anymore.  I find that if I fail, it could be the tone for the entire year.   

But John arrives and provides us with another beginning for the year.  He starts with ‘in the beginning’, words we know from Genesis’ opening.  From one beginning to the next, and now tomorrow’s. 

But today’s beginning is very different and very specific.  John is stating loudly, the beginning before our understanding.  The beginning in the depths of time. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 

Ultimately, it states, if you will, that Christ was not an angel or man or other formed being; Christ did not begin to exist, but always existed with God.  Full stop.  God and Word did not come from the Big Bang Theory.  Yet, these entities did create what came from the Big Bang. 

When Christ took the human form in Jesus, it was to bring us together as the children of God.  As we accept God, we receive grace in forgiveness and in living a life in the light of God. 

Living in the light of God ~ 

The part of the gospel declaring Jesus as the true light, which enlightens everyone held with me.  On Christmas Eve, Lisa described a great light coming to all who are walking in the darkness.  We all look forward to light at this time of year, being one of the darkest times.   

Today, we are singing about the light that is Jesus at almost every turn.  In the Gradual leading to the Gospel reading, we sang “Light appeared in the deepest darkness.  Night was ended and morning dawned. And the light is ever burning, Brightness never overcome.  Jesus is the light eternal.” 

For the offertory, we will sing “Jesus, the Light of the world.” 

The reference to incarnate Word being the light, a light that is with us throughout our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not, is repeated to show its necessary cause.  When Jesus looks upon all He encountered while on this earth, He was exuding God’s light through hope, through prayer, and through strength.    

As the Word, Christ existed before this earth did.  Before any of those in the Old Testament, before the dinosaurs.  He came to what was his own, this place.  He came to what was His and God’s already and He was rejected for the most part.  Yet throughout this time, Jesus did not allow the light to be diminished.   

In our collect today:  you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word; grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives.  

We are carrying this light right now.  He worked to ensure that we are using the light we have within us each day as we pass on hope and strength through prayer and action.   

In looking into the full stretch of the meaning of the light at this time in our year, I found many a commentary on how the Child is shown in paintings of the Nativity.  The comments highlight that in many of the paintings the light is shining from the Child and upon on all present:   human, animal, and angel.  Think about paintings you love this time of year, maybe they’ve been on cards received, stories you’ve read to family, or looked for on the ‘net to bring the Season alive for you.  It isn’t that the light is low in the stable and focused on the Child.  The Child is exuding the light!  Already bringing the light to all around him. 

Again, We are carrying this light right now.  The smile of a child at a meal or gift-giving, the hugs we receive from all we love, the work we do to help care for others experiencing challenging times.  We are sharing the light of the Child for all to gain from.  We want to remind others that the light is enkindled in their hearts, too.  The Incarnate Word, The Child ~ ready to take on the world. 

I found an amazing quote from the Author Madeleine L’Engle: 

Cribb’d, cabined, and confined within the confines of a human infant.  The infinite defined by the finite?  The Creator of all life thirsty and abandoned?  Why would [God] do such a thing?  Aren’t there easier ways for God to redeem…. [God’s] fallen creatures? 

When she wrote that, she was in a shaky time in her faith.  But I felt her raw honesty in asking, why this way? 

May I hazard a guess?  It is in the recognition that this is the Child of God, the Incarnate Word, come show us we are children of God by starting as a child.  Living our lives, Jesus set the example of how we joyfully live in the light of God, how we excitedly share the light of God as the children of God. 

In Galatians, Paul states we are no longer slaves but children of God.  We received the Spirit of the Son into our hearts, saying ‘Abba’.  As a child of God, we are an heir to the life with God.  The Spirit of the Son received and is part of us.  The Spirit of the Son, what I call the light. 

I truly pray none among us ever feel that we are not a child of God.  That no one present ever feels unworthy of God’s love and grace.  Galatians and John are telling each of us, we are a child of God, we hold God’s light, and are one with the Word. 

The Franciscan priest Richard Rohr tends to stop me in my tracks from time to time.  He can be very, very blunt in his writings.  In the piece “A Man’s Approach to God” he wrote 

People are spending their whole lives trying to earn what they already have, trying to be worthy of God.  You don’t get worthy; you are worthy.  The only thing that initially separates you from God is the belief that you are separate. 

And so, I am going to make a resolution.  I know what I said at the beginning of this time with you, but I am going for it. 

I will live each day radiating the Light of the Word, reveling in being a child of God, and sharing these moments with all I encounter. 

May I encourage each of you to find you way toward such a resolution? 

We are in midst of beginning with God, Spirit, Son, Word.  Let us make the most of it in all times. 

Amen. 

 

10am Service