Waynedale United Methodist Church
Friday, October 19, 2018
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Christmas Eve 2017 Sermon

“Christ Will Come: The Light Will Shine!”

John 1:1 – 14

Ted Jansen  December 17, 24 p.m  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        Each evening when the sun goes down we enter a time of darkness.  In this darkness we have faith.  We have faith that the light will shine again.  We have faith that we will not stay in darkness.  We have faith that the world as we have known it will remain the same, light will return.  Each day that the light shines our faith is renewed.  We have faith that light will shine again.       

            As we live out our faith in the light that will shine in these days of December we are aware that we experience more and more darkness.  There is more darkness than light.  When we come to December 21 we experience the most amount of darkness in our natural world.  December 21 is often called the “Shortest Day,” or the “Longest Night.”  That is what we know from the darkness that surrounds our lives at this time of year.       

 

2.)        I was curious about December 21 and other states and towns that are way up north.  Here is what I discovered. 

In Fairbanks Alaska on the shortest day of the year, December 21, the sun will rise at 10:50a.m. and set at 2:41p.m.  How would you like that?  That is only a few hours of light.     

In Barrow, Alaska, which is 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on one of the northernmost areas of Alaska, on December 21 they have complete darkness.  There is not sunrise and sunset.  In fact, from November 18 until January 23 there is complete darkness.  67 days when it is completely dark and no sun coming up.  Can you imagine not seeing any sunlight for 67 days?  Can you imagine darkness for over two months?  That would be hard.      

 

3.)        We know that some people get SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, in the winter, when there is a lack of light.  People can get sad, depressed, or lonely.  Darkness can cause our spirit to be down and clouded over with the negative.    

Sometimes the outer darkness amplifies any inner darkness that we experience.  The darkness inside of us might feel stronger when there is no light around us.  When we have been affected by hurt, pain, selfishness, sin, violence, disappointment, it might seem overwhelming at times.  We might be unsure of where to look for light, or wonder if it will ever come to us.      

             

4.)        As we consider this time of the year and consider our own struggles we look to John who began his Gospel with words that could bring hope.  

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God…In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it… The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only… (John 1:1, 4, 9, 14)

            John tells us that the light, the true light, that can shine to every person was coming into the world.   This gives hope and shows us that darkness will not always prevail.  

            John focuses not only on Jesus as the light but other aspects of his character. John uses five different titles for Jesus in this first chapter.  They are: the Word was God, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Son of God, and the King of Israel.     

                

5.)        We gather this evening in the midst of a darkened sanctuary to understand that Jesus is the light.  We know that the light shines in the darkness.  Jesus shines to us tonight.  He has been shining to us in our past, whether we knew that or not.  Jesus will shine in the future, whether we will be ready or not.  Jesus shines tonight to us, He loves us and wants light to chase away the darkness.   

            Can you see the Light of the World, the Light that shines in the darkness?      

            Look inside the manger.  Let the light of God come to you in the face of a baby. 

            Look to the skies and see the angels.  May the message of the angel be light to you. 

            Look to Joseph, look to Mary, look to Shepherds, look to the Wise Men.  May their heart reflect the light of God to you. 

 

6.)        In this dark sanctuary we light a candle.  This light, this fragile, yet persistent light will not be overcome by the darkness.  One small light shines against the darkness of our sadness, our despair, or loneliness.  God will use a candle to transform your heart as you live in darkness.       

 

7.)        Rev Philip Brooks experience a time of darkness in his soul and spirit. In our country, the Civil War had been going on from 1861 to 1865.  This time in our history was dark.  The death toll made it the bloodiest war in our history.  Approximately 620,000 soldiers died in battle or as a result of the war.  In 1860 the population was 31 million. 

If the Civil War was going on today, with our population of over 321 million, it would mean that over 6 million people would have died.  Can you imagine the spirit of the nation?    

            Then in 1865 Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed.  The nation was grieving and everyone was going through dark and tough times.  

            Rev Philip Brooks preached the eulogy for Abraham Lincoln at his funeral.  He had to speak words in the midst of having his heart breaking amidst this darkness.  This is not something you can erase from your memory or soul.     

            In 1868, a few years after this dark time, Rev Brooks went to the Holy Land and spent some time in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  It is believed that on Christmas Eve he was near where Jesus the Word that became flesh, the Light of the World was born. 

As Rev Brooks considered all that had happened in the last few years he wrote these words.     

 

8.)        O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie, Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by, Yet in thy dark streets shineth, The everlasting Light, The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight. 

            O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray, Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born to us today, We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel, O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel

            Do you recognize those words?   Those are two verses from “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  These words came from a man who was needing to see the light. 

 

9.)        We need the everlasting light.  We need the everlasting love.  We need the everlasting hope.  We need the everlasting peace.  We need the everlasting joy. 

            We won’t find what we need under a tree, or in our bank account, or in a bottle, or in another person.  Wherever we are looking we won’t find until we let the Light of the baby born long ago come into our hearts.  

Jesus loves you and His light makes all the difference in the world.  That is what Rev Brooks wrote about when he said, “O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray.  Cast out our sin and enter in, but born to us today.”   

         

10.)      (After we pass the light from the Christ Candle and sing Silent Night we hear God’s Word that brings light and life to us.  Luke 2:1 – 20 from the Good News Translation)

 

             At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire.  When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria.  Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown.

          Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David.  He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby.  She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.

          There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them, “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.  This very day in David's town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord!  And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger.  When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child.  All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said.  Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them.  The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.”