Share the light

Christmas Day

In the name of the God of light and life.  Amen.

This time of year, I wonder how images of our faith must be so very different for Christians in the Southern Hemisphere.  We are in the midst of the darkest time of year.  It’s the time of year when our pre-Christian, Northern-European ancestors would build fires at night in rituals meant to coax the sun to return.  But in the global South, these aren’t the days of diminished light.  These are the among the longest days of the year.  They are living now in the midst of the great light.

But we are in the midst of the days most like those described in these first verses of John’s Gospel.  Days when light is the stuff of testimony, more than a lived reality.

The promise of Christ, however, is that light that overcomes darkness.  Darkness never overcomes light.

The fact is, it doesn’t take much light to overcome darkness.  The absence of light feels profound.  It feels powerful and all-encompassing.  But in fact, it is very weak.  On the other hand, even a very little light is strong.  Just the tiniest light can erase darkness.  And the light of Christ isn’t insignificant.  It is life that is the light of all people.

There is, however, in the world, darkness.  Not just in the sense of the absence of the sun, but there is pain, loss, and disillusionment.  There is mourning, grief, and people sensing a lack of purpose in their lives.

But it doesn’t take much light to overcome it.

Now that we are in the time of basking in the light of the incarnation, remember that it is our job to share the light.  It is our calling and, in all truth, it is our delight and our honor to share the light.  It is not just a task to accomplish, but sharing the light of Christ is the greatest gift we receive.

Last night, at the Christmas Eve service, we did what we do every year.  We sang Silent Night by candle light.  As the church lights dimmed, each person’s candle was lit from some other light.  And no light was diminished in the process.  Sharing the light only caused it to grow.  By the end, the church was bathed in candlelight.

The same is true for the life of Christ that is our light and the light of all the people.  Each time we share it, it grows.  Giving it to the people we meet in the world doesn’t divide it, it multiplies it.

In our house – like probably most of yours, when we leave here today, we’ll share gifts with one another.  For me, it’s one of my favorite times of year, not because of gifts that I’ll receive, but because of the joy I get in giving gifts.  Sure, it’s fun to get gifts, but the real anticipation for me happens in the planning to give and in the giving.

As we share the light of Christ in the world around us, it’s that same kind of joy.  The joy that comes from giving.  A joy that is somehow even more soul-deep than the joy of receiving.  Joy that can only grow from being given away.

This is my Christmas wish for all of us: that our joy will grow and be given away; that light will grow because it’s been shared.  And most of all, that these days of life, light, and joy will remind us to live lives of life, light, and joy, even after this Christmas fades to memory.  Though the day may fade, I pray that the gift lives on.  Amen.