The Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas Eve)
They say, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” And these days, there is certainly a lot of darkness! Ooh, but how we love to curse!
“Curse this darkness!” “Curse this economy!” “Curse those who mess with Christmas!” “Curse you for what you did to me!” “Curse this president!” “Curse this governor!” “Curse those politicians!” “Curse Wall Street!” “Curse the protestors!” “Curse the world!” “Curse God!”
Oh yeah, we love it! And if we can muster just the right amount of self-righteous indignation, coupled with a string of spritely expletives…well, all the better! Forget about lighting that candle…curing the darkness just feels so good!
But tonight is Christmas Eve! Ah, but Christmas is not about cleaning up our act and watching our language. Nor is Christmas simply a nifty time to light some candles and bask in their soft glow. Christmas is for remembering in faith that one Light has appeared—Jesus, who “comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.”
After all, the optimistic among us might indeed be inspired by Christmas to rush out and light a thousand candles, while the pessimistic among us are content to continue our cursing. But who are we? What do we count for? Our own brief candle is so quickly snuffed out by the winds of life, and the darkness always seems to return.
But Christmas is not about us! It’s not about being good little boys and girls. It’s not about being “brights” or “dims.” It’s about Him!
Tonight we light a candle…several of them, in fact! And each candle lighted tonight is about Jesus. Each candle is about God made flesh as easily and as suddenly as candlelight cuts through the darkness. Christmas is about Him whose own candle burned thirty-three years despite all the huffing and puffing of His foes. Him, who we remember on Good Friday by the extinguishing of candles; Him who gave up His light and life, and it became dark again. Cursedly dark! Until the third day, “and there was light.”
This is Christmas. Not us. Him. And though the darkness these days can be as dark as any the world has known—sometimes less so, sometimes more so—still it is darkness like that of Bethlehem long ago, in whose dark streets shineth the everlasting light….light that no darkness can or will ever overcome.
So when those curses come quickly to our lips, ah, we have forgotten the Light. When we feel the darkness of this world wrap itself around us so suffocatingly that we begin to despair, ah, we have forgotten the Light. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, the light who shines in the darkness. And in His light we see light.
For this reason we gather here tonight. Not merely to remember a time when light shone in Bethlehem long, long ago. No, we gather tonight in faith, rejoicing that what was long ago still shines with us, scattering all the darkness of our hearts and minds. Jesus gathers us here tonight. And being thus gathered together in the light of Jesus, it is truly amazing how very different all the darkness looks!