Summary: Homily for a Christmas Candlelight Service

Just a few months ago... in August, 1000's of people in this country... my wife and myself included... traveled 100's of miles to be in the path of a couple moments of darkness. To witness a celestial event that occurs… when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured, by passing into the shadow of another body.

The event we all know as... the total eclipse of the sun.

Eclipses are not a common event. In fact, they are a rare event that can span many decades from one to the next.

And here we were... in Victor, Idaho... in the path of this total eclipse of the sun… Along with 1000's of other people in the country who flocked to this path across the United States to witness this two minute event of darkness that will be years before it happens again. For some, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event

I remember the day... it started like any other day... It was light, then slightly eerie in color....

As we watched through the special glasses, we saw the sun, the light… gradually become just a sliver of light and disappear. And then total darkness...

Unlike that day in August that begin with people in daylight looking for darkness...

The Christmas story begins in darkness...with people looking for light.

There was the darkness of oppression,

for God's people were a conquered people.

They were a beaten and a defeated people.

There was the darkness of persecution.

There was a despised universal taxation

There was the darkness of disillusionment.

There was an ever-increasing number who felt that violence, and not faith, was the most effective path.

On that first Christmas, the mood was one of despair and resignation.

And that was then…and so it is now.

We too, live in a world of darkness. There are wars and rumors of wars, hunger and unemployment, racism, loneliness, immoral behaviors and mass shootings and... and just an overall sense of emptiness.

Perhaps the poet Robert Frost

worded it best when he wrote:

“I have been acquainted with the night.

I have walked in the rain

and out of the rain.

I have been acquainted with the night.”

I don't have to tell any of you about the darkness, because in one form or another, at one time or another, it has touched the life of every person here.

We've all been acquainted with the night.

We did not come here this afternoon to naively deny the existence of the darkness. Nowhere in scripture do we receive a pep talk and an argument that things aren't really as bad as they seem. We all know that the darkness is real and it is present.

But we are here this afternoon

because of the Light.

We are here because…

we are remembering the Star.

We are here because…

God sent His son in swaddling clothes

to save His people from their sins...

from this darkness.

We are here because…

there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps by being here this afternoon...

the end of the tunnel

can get moved a bit closer

As the prophet Isaiah wrote, Isaiah 9:2

“people who walk in darkness

have seen a great light.”

John’s Gospel records: John 1:5

The light shines in the darkness

and the darkness has not overcome it.

And so, we come together to sing the words:

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Yet, in thy dark street shineth

the everlasting light.

The good news of Christmas is…

in the midst of a deep darkness

there came a light,

and the darkness was not able

to overcome that light.

Just like in that total eclipse this past summer... the total darkness of the totality of that eclipse was overcome quickly with just a sliver of light on the other side

There are times, in the events of the world and in the events of our own personal lives, that we feel that the light will be snuffed out. But the Christmas story affirms that whatever happens, the light still shines.

Because of Christmas, it will never get so dark

that we can't see the light.

Just like in that total eclipse... it never got so dark

that we could not see the light.

As you walk outside this evening, notice that the darkness does not intrude upon the light. On the contrary, it is the light that intrudes upon the darkness.

Light is always stronger than darkness.

… the forces of light

are stronger than the forces of darkness. …it's in this darkness that God sent an eternal light. That light gives us hope… That Light is Jesus.

He gives the hope that

life overcomes death,

that love conquers hate, and

that truth will prevail over falsehood.

We are the people of light and we must share that light in a dark and a dreary land.

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