Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Looking for That Light in the Darkness

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who have lived in a land of deep darkness on them a light has shined." These are the opening lines that we always hear from the prophet Isaiah on Christmas Eve as our Episcopal service progresses toward the greatest light that Christians have known in the darkest times: the light of Christ. That light, for many of us, is like the steady glow of a lighthouse that breaks through the thickest, most pea-soup type of fog so that we may find our way home. It is an unfailing light which we can see best when we open our eyes.

If there was ever a time when I feel that I need this light to shine, now would be it. As I've been blogging throughout this Advent, it seems that this celebration of the nativity of Christ is coming at a time when our nation is going through painful realizations of how deep our divisions are along color lines. We are still locked in a battle over whether marriage equality is legal, let alone OK, in the state of Florida with lawyers looking for any minute loophole they can find in a federal judges' order to keep lesbian and gay couples as second-class citizens. Police officers are wantonly gunned down in New York City and instead of seeing this as more evidence of the proliferation of guns and the problems of mentally ill people getting guns, there is more yelling, more fingerpointing, more blaming anyone or anything than the individual who committed the crime and the powers that colluded to give him access to a weapon. We are in a scream fest and we are at each others throats while the band plays on.

In many respects, this upheaval and disquiet is similar to the world in which the Word became flesh and shined a new light. There was oppression. The haves were quite satisfied to be the haves, and not always doing the social contract duty of looking out for the children and the widows. Some worked in collusion with the Roman authorities to burden the Israelites with taxes. There was fracturing and division. Different stressors. Different times. No internet or Twitter feed, but still, things were out-of-whack. This is the world into which Christ is born. And this birth is the hope of a people searching for a Messiah.

In our world today, we may not have a baby being born in a barn somewhere who will take on the role of Messiah. Instead, what I think is expected is for us to realize that the birth of Christ is not merely an outward and visible sign, depicted sweetly in a creche, but rather it is the birth of the spirit of Christ in us to grow as he did from that baby dependent on the love of a mother and the dreams of a father to survive into the man who would see the disparities, discord and brokenness of his time and tend to the person in need while calling out the forces that caused the injury in the first place. Jesus didn't make his statements so much as personal indictments of individuals, but he would question the motivation of the individuals which contributed to systematic oppression. We are being asked to do the same as we look at our world today. Who are the people being kept down, being left out, still sitting in darkness? What is colluding to hold them back? This where the light of Christ is ready to enter. Are we willing to be that light?

 O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the
brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known
the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him
perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he
lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


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