“The Brightest Light of Christmas” ~ John 1: 1-14
Rev. Scott Turnbrook ~ Dec 16/2018 ~ Northwood Japanese Christmas Service
At this time of year, I love to get outside and gaze at the Christmas lights adorning people’s houses. People decorate their homes with lights running along the outlines of their homes, their rain gutters, their shrubbery, their fences. And when the sun sets, and the darkness arrives and the night comes…their homes light up and we become like moths drawn to a flame. We come to the light. Some of you might enjoy this as well, I suspect? How many of you enjoy taking in the beauty of colourful lights shining from people’s homes in your neighbourhood? Some of us might have even have paid to go to light festivals such as Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver or the Glow Festival in Langley. We are like moths drawn to a flame…drawn in to the glorious shining of the light.
Doctors tell us that this is a natural desire for us…our human desire is to seek light…to emerge from the darkness…our yearning to live in the light. Our bodies need for light becomes even more pronounced during the winter months when light is so scarce. In this winter season, the sun sets around 4 pm and we do not see it again until 8 the following day. And that, of course, is assuming that daytime brings some sun amidst the rainy winter day. I think this is why we seek light so much, especially at this time of the year. Seeking light is a deeply human part of our humanity. We desire light; we yearn light; we seek light.
In telling the story of Jesus’ birth, John the gospel writer speaks about Jesus coming as arriving in “light”. John’s telling of the birth story does not contain a nativity story like Luke’s gospel. John’s telling of Jesus’ coming does not contain a genealogy lineage like in the case of Matthew linking Jesus all the way back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. John speaks about the birthing of Jesus as the birth of light. Even back two Millennia, John knew of our deeply human need for light. For John, Jesus was described as being “light”. He was: “the light of all the people”. He was: “the light that shone into the darkness”…a light that would even darkness would overcome. He was: “the true light, which enlightens everyone”….and Jesus’ light has come to shine for everyone.
I wonder what that would mean for people of faith to receive the coming of the light? For the people in the time of Jesus, it would have been the release from the darkness of the Imperialist rule of the Roman Empire on their land. Light would mean an end to the Roman armies ruling over their daily lives. The arrival of light would be a time to truly live in peace in the land that God had promised.
Yet, for us, we do not live with soldiers overlooking us in the streets. Our darkness can often be much more subtle ~ but darkness is there, nevertheless. Sometimes darkness is found in poverty and the light that is shared in others offering help. I am always overwhelmed at the response to Christmas appeals. When we lift up the needs of those who are less fortunate people are drawn to share the light of generosity. Earlier this Fall, we welcomed the Hammoud family to Canada ~ our Syrian refugee family and set them up for a good start in a safe new homeland. This Christmas, with several partners in the community, we started a “Christmas Coat Drive” and people have dropped off many, many, many coats for the needy. And once again, we continued running our “White Gift Ministry” providing hampers filled with food and presents for a number of families in need in the community. These are tangible ways that light is offered to individuals and families experiencing dark times. Light shining into the darkness through the ways we reach out in hope, peace, joy, and love.
People live in many kinds of darkness today ~ not just the darkness of poverty and violence. Sometimes darkness takes other forms. There is a growing awareness of the darkness in our world caused from social isolation. There is a growing loneliness in our world and people are increasingly yearning for connection and love today. I believe that one of the significant roles for the church in the future will be for us to provide opportunities for light to shine into the darkness of people’s loneliness and isolation. Several of the groups that we have running at the church are entirely focused on human connection with one another. The main goal is to ‘be together’, to connect as brother and sister, to share one another’s light and simply ‘be’. All of Jesus’ ministry was done face to face as he went from town to town. He went from village to village gathering with all the people and sharing the light in community. Even if Jesus had the technology of today, I don’t think he ever would have stayed home and done things remotely. He would have gathered in community because that is where the light is shared ~ when we are together. Have you ever considered what a gift of ‘light’ you are when you share your light with another person? Deep inside each of us rests a ‘Christ light’ that has been placed to shine for others to see. When you are with others the light of Christ shines.
And so, in this Christmas season, we can say thanks be to God for the gift of the Christ light. A light that shines into the darkness bringing hope, peace, joy and love. May we receive the Christ light once again and bask in its glow. May it renew our spirits for the year ahead. And may we be the Christ light to others in our living, loving and serving.