Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let Your Light So Shine | Sermon for the First Sunday After Christmas

December 30 | All Saints Church | 7:30am

And the Word became flesh

That was my Christmas Day sermon.
I’m not going to re-preach it this morning
but I do want to start by reprising this bit:

Because what we celebrate on Christmas –
and today is the 6th Day of Christmas, so we’re still celebrating! –
is nothing less than the promise of new life
in the birth of the Christmas baby.
We are called to wonder again
at the power of a love
great enough to triumph over death
as we claim a Christmas Truth
greater than any of the traditions it inspires:
the mystical longing
of the creature for the creator –
the finite for the infinite –
the human for the divine.

It is a longing that transcends
culture, religion, language and custom –
and it is a longing that is represented for us as Christians
in this Christmas baby
all wrapped up in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.

The sudden, amazing and incomprehensible gift of grace:
a God who loved us enough
to become one of us
in order to show us
how to love one another.
Loved us enough to become human
in order to show us how to become fully human.
Loved us enough to yearn for us
to become the creatures we were created to be
rather than settle for being
the creatures we had become.

And the Word became flesh.

And the traditions we inherit
the rituals we practice
the customs we claim
are all designed to point us to that truth.

That’s part of what I preached on the First Day of Christmas.
And what want to talk about on this Sixth Day of Christmas
is the “therefore” part
the “so what” part
the “what now” part
the “meaning of life” part?

And my favorite story to illustrate that point is from one of my favorite writers: Robert Fulghum of Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten fame.

It’s a story about a Greek philosophy professor.
It seems that it was his custom to end each lecture
by asking the class, “Are there any questions?”

One day a student raised his hand and – half jokingly said,
“Yes, I’ve got a question. What is the meaning of life?”

The professor replied, “I will answer your question,”
and he pulled a small hand mirror out of his pocket and he told this story:

"When I was a small child, living during the war
we were very poor and we lived in a remote village.
One day, on the road,
I found the broken pieces of a mirror.

A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

I tried to find all the pieces
and put them back together,
but it was not possible,
so I kept only the largest piece.
And by scratching it on a stone I made it round.
I began to play with it as a toy,
and became fascinated by the fact
that I could reflect light into dark places
where the sun would never shine –
in deep holes and crevices and dark closets.

It became a game for me
to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.
I kept the little mirror,
and as I went about my growing up,
I would take it out in idle moments
and continue the challenge of the game.

As I became a man,
I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game
but a metaphor for what I might do with my life.
I came to understand that I am not the light
or the source of the light.
But light - truth, understanding, knowledge - is there,
and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

I am a fragment of a mirror
whose whole design and shape I do not know.
Nevertheless, with what I have
I can reflect light into the dark places of this world
and change some things in some people.
Perhaps others may see and do likewise.
This is what I am about.

This is the meaning of my life."

That was the meaning of his life
and it can be the meaning of ours
if we are willing to let our light so shine.

Like the man in the Gospel for today,
the man sent from God,
whose name was John.
He came as a witness to testify to the light.
He himself was not the light,
but he came to testify to the light.

A light that is for all nations and all people
as the song goes:
Creator of the stars of night
Your people’s everlasting light
O Christ, Redeemer of us all
We pray you hear us when we call.
Hear us when we call asking how and when and where
we can best reflect the light we have been given
can best testify to the light we have experienced.

For we are a people claimed by God.
We come as witnesses to the light.
We are not the light but we testify to the light
whenever we take God’s healing grace
and God’s inclusive love into the dark places
they will never shine without us to reflect them.

We testify to the light:

When we speak out against the drones in Afghanistan
and when we stand against gun violence in Altadena.

When we preach family values that value all families
and when we petition for the end of the death penalty.

When we light candles at vigils for our homeless neighbors
and when we light fires under politicians
and call on them to refuse to solve the “fiscal cliff” problem
by balancing the budget on the backs of those with the least resources.

In these and all the other actions
we take out from this place into the world
it is the light of Christ we shine:
as we go out to let our light so shine
as the word made flesh
as the Body of Christ in the world.
To God Creator, God the Son
And God the Spirit, Three in One
Praise, honor, might and glory be
From age to age eternally.

1 comment:

May Winters said...

Thank you and Amen for these wise words this sixth day of Christmas.