Christmas is upon us, our last Christmas together as pastor and people. I cannot begin to find the words to ex-press my gratitude to you, and my love for you. I believe this will be a very special time in the life of our church as we celebrate Advent and Christmas for the 29th time together. We will wait with hopeful expectation for Jesus to be born among us once more.
I have often quoted Helmut Thielicke’s sermon entitled, “The Message of Redeeming Light,” in which he wrote that “If we take light seriously, we also have to reckon with the fact that there is a night in which it shines….It, (light) is a miracle only if the night is taken seriously.” The context for these words was World War II Nazi Germany. It was night all around our world.
A hymn we often sing proclaims that “morning has broken.” For some this is true. Praise God. But others continue to be victims of violence, abuse, or war. For still others, Christmas is not a time of happiness and good cheer. There are financial worries, family challenges, and health concerns. Some have lost loved ones and that makes this season particularly difficult; signs of our world’s night to be sure.
Just as the first Christmas was enveloped in the darkness of sin and sadness, so too is our Christmas celebration. Thank God for the miracle of light, and for the star that leads to a humble manger and to a child destined to be the light of the world; the child who would suffer and die to redeem the world’s sin and sorrow and death. Thank God for this one who lights our way to God.
Leslie Weatherhead once spoke of Christianity as the “religion of the dawn…we do not pretend that there is no night but we live in faith that however long the night, in world affairs or our own hearts, the night will pass, and the dawn will come.”
I marvel each year at the tenacity the Christmas story has on my mind and heart. But I also wonder about those who have never heard the story or truly experienced Christmas. Jesus once told us that “we are the light of the world.” We are to throw off a radiance that touches the hearts and minds of others. Like our candles on Christmas Eve, every single light can make a difference. Thank you Church, for all the ways you light up our community and world. I challenge you to continue to be intentional in finding new and creative ways to share the light and love of Christ with all.
Longfellow heard the bells on Christmas day and said, “There is no peace on earth, for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.” I prefer the words of Horatio Bonar: “I heard the voice of Jesus say: ”I am this dark world’s light, look unto me, thy morn shall rise, and all the day be bright. And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done.” God bless you all! Merry Christmas!
In Christ’s love, Pastor Joel
Pastor Joel Hawthorne