Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Homily 2010


The People who walk in darkness have seen a great light. 

What a great image to ponder as we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. 
There are countless reasons for us to feel like we are
shadows in the night wandering through this valley of tears;
longing for light,
searching for a reason to believe,
waiting, hoping, praying
for a graceful light to guide our feet
into the ways of peace. 
Just how dark must the night be
in order for us to see that light,
to walk in its glow,
alive in its warmth,
surprised by the joy it brings? 
How silent must the night become
in order for us to hear
the angels herald glad tidings
of peace on earth and good will
towards all people,
for this night a child is born to us,
a savior who is Christ the Lord? 
Rejoice people of God for tonight
this glorious light
has broken into the poverty of this night
to fill us with the glorious love of God
who has come to bring us salvation.

This light explodes in tender mercy;
a force that shatters the hardness of our hearts. 
Its beam revealed,
not in the joy of celebration,
not in the largess of the gifts we share,
or the togetherness we feel as we gather
from the many miles we traverse,
but in a simple,
out of the way place,
a time nothing like our own. 
Still its joyful grace radiates
in the beating of our hearts,
the quiet of our souls
and in all the confusion,
chaos and
anxieties of our lives. 
Like a beacon in the night
the Christ light
calls us to know and trust that God is with us;
Emmanuel walks with us,
embraces life together with us,
in all its reality,
in every possibility we experience,
and in every way we choose to love.

His life interacts with our own;
his divinity mingles with our humanity,
and in the darkness
he comes to save us. 
His light is not seen through the amazing miracle of our eyes,
but through the invisible secrecy of our compassion. 
So, it is heard in the annoying peal of Salvation Army bells
that impel us to dig into our pockets and purses
for a little bit of change that builds up in such a way
that the hungry are fed,
the homeless are sheltered,
the naked are clothed,
and the sick and imprisoned comforted. 
His light is experienced when,
in the hollow darkness of our doubts
we make that choice to believe what cannot be understood,
like those who listened to the shepherds
who called them to see the unlikely miracle
of the new born King asleep in a manger,
hidden away in a cave
near the poor and forgotten town of Bethlehem. 
His light is tasted as bread and wine;
a meal so simple,
so plain and small,
yet nourishing with eternal life,
a heart that beats divine grace,
and eternal salvation. 
His light is revealed as Sacred Word
to inspire and direct our souls
in prayer, wonder and inspiration.
His light is spoken in faith that is shared,
the risk of giving away a message
so often unwanted and shunned
by those who choose to follow other lights
that logic tells us make so much sense,
and yet so often lead to a darkness
the mysteries of grace cannot seem to penetrate.

When parents tell the story of Christmas
to their children whose eyes dance
with excitement and awe,
families walk in the light of Christ.
When we gather in worship and praise,
joining in communion with the saints,
our loved ones who have gone before us
marked with the sign of faith,
the Church walks in the light of Christ.
In the stillness of our prayers,
eyes closed,
hearts and souls opened in quiet solitude,
darkness vanishes,
a new dawn shines
and we walk in the great light of Christ.

His light is mercy
tenderly, abundantly
given in human form,
broken open and shared
for the life of the world. 
As we celebrate Christmas
may his light bless us
with the peace of knowing
the glory of his name, Jesus,
which means God saves us. 
May his light reveal
that he is Emmanuel,
God with us.
 And may we journey through this year
as people who walk in and reveal
the great light of his love.

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