Summary: How do we answer evil as humans compared to how God answers evil? We are called to meet evil with love and compassion, as God met evil with Jesus.
A Christmas Eve Service of Carols and Lessons
Preached at Saint John the Evangelist, Cold Lake
24 December 2001
May the words of my lips and the meditations of all our hearts be ever pleasing to thee, O Lord most high. Amen.
Tonight we join together to anticipate the imminent birth of Jesus. We have listened to the sacred readings that anticipate His coming and announce the good news of his birth. We have sung together these wonderful sacred carols that celebrate the news of the coming Messiah. We recognize Christ’s coming into the world with the lighting of the final candle of our Advent wreath, the Christ candle. Now we gather to reflect on His word, and how we are to apply it to our lives.
Christ came into the world as God’s answer for evil – by bringing the light of love into our midst. With all that has happened since September, it is interesting to reflect on what humankind’s answer to evil is. When we listen to the world leaders speaking, the language reminds me very much of what we read in the Book of Revelation – apocalyptic and very polarized. Things are either very good, and our hope for happiness, or very evil and must be destroyed quickly.
How do we see evil dealt with in adventure movies? The plots are familiar to all of us. There are good guys, and bad guys. In each group there will be one person who is better than all the rest, and one who is worse. As the movie unfolds, we know the hero will suffer at the hands of the villain…but we know the villain will get his just deserts in the end. As the movie moves to its climax, the hero defeats the villain and all is well in the world. The question we need to answer is what does the hero do to win? The answer is he defeats evil by being just a little smarter, stronger, faster or wiser that then bad guy.
The message: Good defeats evil through might!
As much as we teach our children that violence does not work, one only has to look at the world to see violence used almost everywhere, by both the good and the bad guys.
In the Christmas miracle, what was God’s answer to evil? Do we hear of the coming of an all-powerful king like King David, who will conquer all of Israel’s oppressors and return Israel to their rightful place? Do we hear of a mighty warrior like Sampson, who comes to knock out the pillars of the oppressors, and to bring the temple down on their heads? We do not.
What we hear of is a baby, a human baby, who came into the world as the human son of poor, common people – a carpenter named Joseph and a young woman named Mary. That baby came into life, not in a palace surrounded by riches, but in a stable, surrounded by sweet hay and silent animals. And who were the first to hear the glorious words of the angels? (candy cane) They were not the rulers or the leaders of the army, but poor shepherds watching their flocks by night.
We deal with evil with violence because we live in a violent world. Until Christ comes again, we know that wars, sickness, suffering and the poor will be a part of our lives. The question tonight is what do each of us take home with us from Christmas? What do we make a part of ourselves that will change us forever in answer to this wonderful gift of our Lord?
God could have defeated evil by sending a multitude of the heavenly host – his special forces – to overwhelm and destroy evil forever. B-52s, modern fighters and precision-guided bombs look like birthday balloons popping compared to the might of the Lord. Why didn’t he? He didn’t because he sent something much more powerful and much more majestic – the gift of living love, in His own Son.
This baby would change the world and all of us forever. He lived a sinless life and taught people how to live according to God’s will. In the end, he would die on a cross to pay the price for our sins and rise again to give us the amazing gift of eternal life. He was no ordinary baby, this Jesus, lying there in the manger. He was God incarnate who came to give us life. And he is here right now with us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s gift of love tells us something very important – it does not matter what we do in our lives…it does not matter how bad we feel we may be…you can not think of a sin so bad that God’s love will not overwhelm it and provide us with Divine forgiveness. In fact when you think about us compared to the goodness of God you realize that the gap between us and the most heinous criminal ever known is insignificant. When you look at the awesome gulf between the best humanity has to offer and our Lord, you realize that there is far more that binds us together as sinful people than we may first acknowledge.