This is the Sunday of Light: of the Light that shines in the Darkness and the Darkness has never put it out. This is the Sunday we bear witness to the Light: the Light of the Good News of God.
What we have done this year, this past Advent and this ongoing Christmas season, is to bear forth into the world the Good news that is the Light of God incarnate in Jesus Christ.
We do this through our actions, symbolic as our liturgy, and our activity during the week, in the world. We show forth the Light, and we bear witness to it, potentially in all we do.
This past month I have been the grateful witness and participant in many manifestations of the light in the midst of darkness. I have been aware of the darkness, of fear and misunderstanding and willful hate, of ignorance and exclusion and pompous piety. And I have been aware that throughout all of this we the witnesses to the light have not given up.
We have not given in. I see it in the processions – in the procession on All Hallows’ Eve from St John the Evangelist parish church down to the mission church of San Xavier, in Las Posadas right over on South Main Avenue with the schoolchildren of Carrillo School. I have seen it in the more pointedly political bi-national Las Posadas on the border in Nogales, with the dioceses of Tucson and Nogales leading, and many people concerned with our border and immigration policy and practices taking part in a mildly long walk.
When we take a gift or a greeting to a neighbor, when we wave someone ahead of us on the street or in line at the grocery store, it may not mean much to us – or to them. But it gets us going. It gets us started on another path than the one that leaves us in shadow.
When on Christmas Eve we were talking through the fine points of the liturgy, Vicar Kate reminded us that the gospel book itself bears witness to the light. When it was carried first in procession, before the story of the Christ Child was read, it was the vessel of illumination. It carried a light that was leading the way.
As we heard that story again and for the first time that night, we could almost see the glow around the people gathered in the little town where the child lay. There in that faraway place, whether the child was in a barn or a cozy back room of a family home, new Light had come into the world. It came in dangerous times, in a risky way. It came in by the small door, not through the gates of the palace, but in an ordinary small place.
Light comes to us sometimes without angels – or with only shepherds to witness. Sometimes we are the shepherds, the poor ones trying to keep warm on a cold night – just doing our jobs. But then…
The word comes to us and dwells among us, the word which is the light of all people.
When we see it, when we hear it, we may not know how to ignore it. We have a new job to do.
That job – that work – is to bear witness to the Light; what that means, how that plays out for each of us, is the daily task, and the daily opportunity, of our new lives in Christ.
May we as we go forth into the world into this new-coming year, bring with us a little bit of the glow of Christmas night, as we too, like the shepherds and star-watchers before us, try to hold aloft the Light that reveals the truth to all and the glory to all of God with us.
Sunday 27 December 2016
St Andrew's Episcopal Church