Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Eve Meditation

The Christmas Narrative by John August Swanson
The story is so familiar- Mary, Joseph, the baby in the manger, the angels and the shepherds. The story is the same each year. But each Christmas, we hear the story with new ears, for we have never heard it as we are right now. Perhaps this year you have a new job or are welcoming a new member of the family. Maybe it’s the first year without a loved one or a sibling has moved away or the first Christmas that you’re not all together as a family. The story though remains the same, even as we have different ears to hear it.

A Skagit Sunrise by a Seattle photographer
Whatever the circumstances you find yourself in this year, Mary still wraps the baby in swaddling clothes and lays him in the manger and the angels come with a message of peace on earth and goodwill to all, and Jesus, the light of the world, is born. As Isaiah proclaimed:

2 The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
   on them light has shined. 

Think of the past year. What is the darkness you have dwelt in this year? Is it grief? Is it fear or self-doubt, loneliness or isolation? All the darkness we have known cannot overcome the light of Jesus, who comes with hope and light and healing for all. Some of us may look back on this year and see darkness, others of us look back on the year and will be filled with gratitude for abundant blessings. Whether your heart is breaking or whether it is breaking open with a flood of love and joy, we all stand together at the manger.

Stained glass window at Boe Chapel, St. Olaf College
Whatever we may be feeling tonight, the good news remains the same- to all of us, in every place and time, Jesus comes to light our way and to dwell with us.  The birth of the baby does not solve all the problems in our families, nor will it cause all wars to cease. But somehow, the Prince of Peace comes with a glimmer of light into our dark world, a sign that God stands with us through all things, bringing hope to the world.
The light of Jesus shone first from that stable but the light of the good news of God’s presence with us has been passed like a torch from Bethlehem 2,000 years ago to us tonight. Each time the love of God is shared, whenever mercy and grace and peace prevail, the light spreads and multiplies. So tonight, if your soul is weary because you have been walking in darkness, I say to you, on you light has shined. And tonight, if you are filled with joy, may the light of Christ shine through you.

With the angels and the shepherds, may we all proclaim the good news of Jesus’ birth, and with it, peace on earth and goodwill to all.  Amen.

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