Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve Message - Light

Of all the accounts, the Gospel of John, in my opinion, perfectly crystalizes the meaning of Jesus’ birth. When you read the first chapter of his Gospel, you realize that the birth of Jesus is more than the story of a series of events. It is a beautiful story of how, in the words of an old hymn, “a Savior came from glory” to live among us and provide an example of how we should live. In time, that very small child will also take the sins of the world upon his body and be our sacrifice on a cross. A very simple birth is more than the events. It is a story of love and salvation for all those who accept that gift given by Father God so many years ago.

John describes, in that first chapter, the birth of Jesus in just a few simple sentences by writing, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

There is no mention of angels or shepherds. We don’t see the three wise men or hear of the stable or manger. There is no mention of Jesus’ parents or anything that we commonly associate with the Christmas holiday. John tells us the Word became human and lived among us and how he was filled with love, an unfailing and undeserved love. He gave us a glimpse into the glory of the Father.

We also see John the Baptist proclaiming that “someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me”. John’s voice booms out of the wilderness and tells us to “clear the way for the Lord’s coming.

John’s simple view of Jesus’ birth gives us the reasons for his birth in an easy-to-understand message. There are no additional stories or other events. His narrative focuses only on one thing -  the Word and its existence and why it became flesh.

John writes, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

When you think about when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate it in the winter. It is the season where the days are shortest and the nights are longer. It is cold and dark. We often burn yule logs during this period to give light and warmth to the household. The same holds true for the birth of Jesus.

Jesus’ life gave us the light that pushes out the darkness and, as John points out, the darkness can never extinguish it. It is a light that radiates out into the world of darkness and gives hope, love, peace and joy to all. It is so important for us to always remember those words, because the Word gave each of us those precious gifts.

As you look around, you see the world filled with hatred, violence and mob rule. People seem like they are no longer interested in the light. Many are turning away from their beliefs and seeking “truth” and “light” elsewhere. Many feel that Christianity is a child’s fairy tale and just needs to put aside in favor of other ideas. As they put aside Christianity, their enlightenment soon turns into confusion and, ultimately, disappointment. Belief in something has metamorphosed into believing in nothing at all. Hearts are hardened and darkness fills their empty lives.

The light is always there for all especially for those who are engulfed in that darkness. There is no way for “the light” to be extinguished. It burns bright for each of us. But, it is up to us to seek it out and accept what it gives.

In chapter three of John’s Gospel, Jesus, while speaking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, says, “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus, in chapter eight, says, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.

I have read many stories of mine accidents and men being trapped underground. After being in the dark with just flashlights or even candles, all of those who survived told of how the light from a rescue team lifted their spirits and gave them hope and joy. Just like with the trapped miners, there is always hope. They all hope and pray for the rescue. When you are trapped in darkness, the light always gives you hope, love, joy and peace.

As you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Christ Jesus, I ask that you think about the simple reason why he came into the world. He is the light of the world and gives us hope, joy, peace and love by shining ever so brightly in this world of darkness. Don’t be misled by the false lights that may appear. They will only give you false hope and lead to disappointment. Take the lesson of John’s simple message and apply it daily. When you do that, you will definitely walk in the light and be able to stand firm in His grace.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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