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Summary: Our Light Amidst Darkness Christmas Eve, Dec. 24th, 2017 – Brad Bailey

Our Light Amidst Darkness

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24th, 2017 – Brad Bailey

[Note: These texts were read earlier in service: Isaiah 9:2,6; John 1:4-5,9; Luke 2:8-20]

Also – There is more here in notes than time allowed to share…but hopefull is still helpful in offering plenty of ideas one can drawn from.]

Intro:

It is truly a joy to gather with you today / this evening…on Christmas Eve… the day in which anticipation unfolds into the actual celebration of Christmas.

There’s been a flurry of preparing for the cultural forms of celebration … and that process can get a little crazy.

We live in a time in which there is chaos of activity…and even the symbols. I know that some of you may have gotten the Star Wars Nativity set. Hey I am not judging you. And Americans have exported this confusion of symbols. In one large Japanese department store a guy saw a display featuring [1]….

Santa Claus…. holding the infant Jesus…. in a sleigh… pulled by the seven dwarfs.

But at it’s best…I like both dimensions of Christmas…the cultural traditions …time with family… gift giving… but also the deeper. It’s my belief that the cultural sentiments can be enjoyed most when we grasp the deeper substance.

I’ve come to find that the cultural aspects are just echoes of the deeper…and they will never fully satisfy in themselves.

As an end in themselves…they can never fully satisfy us. But when we engage the deeper aspect of Christmas… we can actually enjoy the cultural aspects for what they are… that which points to something deeper.

• The family time…whether that is a time of warmth or wanting… it’s only a small reflection of a Father whose love has come to gather his children forever.

• The lights…when they reflect something of hope penetrating the darkness…remember they are a symbol of eternal light…

• If we have gifts to open…when that last gift is open…and you think… it’s over… nothing more? You can realize that so much more was already given. All the gifts between us are only small tokens of what God has given to us.

So today / tonight we gather to engage the deeper meaning of Christmas.

Summed up well in one line of the classic Christmas carol….[2]

The song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” declares:

“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

What a potent and powerful declaration.

It affirms that we live with deep and defining hope…and fears…and that they were met in the timeless moment that we stop and celebrate here.

“Hopes and fears…”

Hope that there is more…and the fears that arise to denounce such hope.

Two forces that exist in each of us.

Precisely the relationship between light and darkness… one a force of hope and one of fear.

We might not think of darkness as central to Christmas…but it is the backdrop from which light comes. [3]

And it’s served well by celebrating during the solstice…when the days are shortest and the nights are longest. And it’s into that darkness that lights are placed.

As we heard read…Among so many prophecies which spoke of this central event of the divine drama … including where and how such events would take place…. It is described as a great light coming into our darkness.

Isaiah 9:2,6

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned….

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,

This is the great news of Christmas…that light has come…and come to those in darkness.

“Jesus said, ‘I have come as a light to shine in this dark world so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer wander in darkness.” - John 12:46

In entering our world, God has become our Light amidst darkness.

Like that grand description of creation itself… when it says that upon creating the heavens and the earth.. God said, “Let there be light” and there was light…so God saw a darkened world …. Darkened by our separation from Him… and sent forth his Word… as Jesus is described, as a light into the world…. a light for our spiritual darkness.

He is speaking not about physical darkness…but the inner darkness of the soul… and spirit.

And what happens if you are in a level of darkness for a long time?

Our eyes adjust to so little light they don’t realize the effects of the darkness.

So before we light the candles that accompany our celebration of light…we must grasp the experience of darkness.

What happens when you everything around you becomes dark?

1. Darkness encloses us

The darkness in our world encloses us…darkness makes our reality smaller

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