The light that blazes forth in the face of ultimate destruction
Mary Copping and Liz Stuart, 25 December 2021
Luke 2: 1–14
MC: I love the Christmas blessing; it has so much in it. So, it is: ‘May the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men, the obedience of Joseph and Mary and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas’. What a wonderful blessing and hope!
The joy of the angels – the angels joyously bringing the good news to people, to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds – with the joy of knowing that Christ was coming into the world, as a baby and as the Saviour of the world.
The eagerness of the shepherds, who were looking after their sheep on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the dark, in the cold – no distractions, perhaps closer to God in that place, without all the distractions? Perhaps wondering what was happening in their part of the world with the oppression of the Roman government – what was the world coming to? Perhaps that’s what we think today as well: what is the world coming to?
But suddenly the angels in a beautiful light bring the good news that a Saviour had been born, and the shepherds rush eagerly to see the baby, the Saviour – eager to see this wonder that God had promised, giving them light in the darkness. And, as they returned to the fields they were changed. It gave them hope for the present and the future, as Christ gives us hope for the present and the future.
The perseverance of the wise men – I think we’ve all persevered, haven’t we, all persevering through these difficult situations, through not knowing what’s going to happen? They travelled many miles, following that star, not giving up until they found the place where Jesus was.
And the wonderful obedience of Joseph and Mary – such an upright man was Joseph, full of integrity. He’d been told in a dream what was going to happen and he stood by Mary through everything. And Mary in her simple obedience said to the angel Gabriel, ‘Be it unto me as you have said’.
The peace of the Christ child – in the stable, that peace, the peace that the world cannot give, a peace that God can give to each one of us in our times of trial and sorrow.
As this Christmas blessing is said at the end of this service, let’s ask God to help us to be eager to receive him, to keep persevering in our lives through all the difficulties we face, to be obedient to all that he wants us to do to bless others, and to receive what God wants to give us – his joy, as of the angels, the hope and the light that the baby Jesus brings, and the peace of the Christ child in our hearts. Amen.
Let’s ask God to help us to be eager to receive his joy, as of the angels, the hope and the light that the baby Jesus brings, and the peace of the Christ child in our hearts.
LS: In the world out there it’s all a bit grim, isn’t it? It feels hard to keep positive and hopeful as Covid cuts a swathe through everything, including Christmas, leaving a trail of heartbreak, illness and fear. But I reflect that things were most certainly gloomy in occupied Judea 2,000 years ago and uncertainty and dread must have threatened to drown hearts in despair.
It was into that sinking darkness that Light itself plunged – a small, frail speck of light, so tiny, so apparently extinguishable. And yet, and yet, no depths of darkness could quench that light, not even the icy night of death.
Things were most certainly gloomy in occupied Judea 2,000 years ago. It was into that sinking darkness that Light itself plunged – a small, frail speck of light.
That light grew in obscurity, expanded among the forgotten and the unimportant, and blazed forth in the face of ultimate destruction. The darkness that always appears ready to engulf the world cannot overcome this light and so it howls in impotence, frightening us with its defeated rage.
But hang on, hang on to that small, slight fleck of light which appeared in the silent watches of the night. It is the mightiest thing in the cosmos, and it loves you. It will not allow darkness to have the last word over any of us. Amen.