This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Friday, 27 June 2014
The Light of the World
once a small child named Jacob. Jacob had not been much interested in
Christmas-too young to remember the previous Christmas, and not comprehending
what it would mean this year. Not much interested, that is, until his mother
and father began to string lights down the banister and around the entry area
of the house. "Oh, Mommy, Mommy!" he exclaimed, "Let me help
make Christmas!" and gathering all the rest of the lights in his arms, he
ran to his room and began to string them everywhere until his room resembled
something like the Griswald's house in the movie Christmas Vacation.
Small as he
was, he grasped an important truth. Christmas is all about lights-the light of
the angels bursting through a cold, dark sky to sing the music of heaven to
terrified shepherds who could not remember anything like this happening before,
nor comprehend what was happening now. The light of a star appearing in the sky
to anxious magi who had never seen anything like it before-and could not comprehend
a king who was born in a stable. The Light of the World, born in a stable to a
scared teenager supported by her worried husband.
our attention. On that first Christmas the true light came into the world, the
light that shines in darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it. The Light
comes again today for us. It comes into our lives. It is here enlightening our
lives. Do we see the Light of Life as the shepherds did, or do we see it as a
disturbance, something that unsettles us, something that makes us uneasy,
something that brings a wave of guilt, but doesn't lead us to repentance.
Because of the Babe born on the first Christmas, our lives are lit up with the
grace of God, the love of God, the forgiveness of God, the power of God, and the
peace of God.
Gospel has two purposes:
introduce his readers to Jesus, and
2. To establish who He is and what He did, all with the sole aim of leading
them to embrace the saving work of Christ.
God came to
us in Christ. When hostility and enmity exist, we can break the silence because
of Christ and offer what God has offered us-a word of Grace. The true light
came on the first Christmas-the light that shines in the darkness, but the
darkness has not overcome it. Light equals life. The Light of Christ has come
into our lives. Do we see it as a disturbance, or do we see it as the Light of
life, like the shepherds did? This light brings peace, comfort, reconciliation
and joy into our lives.
There is a
story about two brothers, named Tom and John, whose father had died. He had
willed the farm to the two of them to keep his sons together. It had not worked
that way. John had married and lived in a small town with his family. Tom, who
remained single, lived alone in the old farmhouse. "John is always
preoccupied with his family," Tom thought. "I do more than my share
of the work." He began to resent his brother. "Tom is always so
grouchy," thought John. "He is jealous of my wife and children."
A wall of
resentment built up between them. They would hardly speak to each other. They
attended the same little church in town and sat on opposite sides of the nave
during the Christmas Eve service. John was troubled because they had hardly
acknowledged each other's presence as they sat in church. On the way home John
said to his wife, "Tom is alone and has no one to share Christmas. I know
he won't come here. Maybe we can take a warm dinner to him." His wife
prepared a delicious meal and put it into a sleigh and started from the small
town to the farmhouse in the country. Meanwhile, Tom, sitting alone, said to
himself: "Life is too short for this. John is my only brother and he has
it hard with his wife and family. I will load my wagon with wood for the fire
and gifts for the children." So he loaded his wagon and drove toward town.
Down in the
valley between the farm and the town they met. They were silent for a moment
and then they embraced with shouts of "Merry Christmas!!!!"
Reconciliation took place at that moment, and the true light of Christmas was
bright with a glow that could be seen for miles around.
light was in the world. The world was made by Him, but the world did not know
Him. In the Bible, the word "flesh" often means "the whole
person". Human nature is distinct and separate from God; the human nature
in all of its weakness and susceptibility of sin. The rejecter's loss is the
believer's gain. The way has been opened for God's purpose to be fulfilled in
us. Christ's grace is inexhaustible. The purpose of the Light is to make us His
children. He is God over us, and He is our advocate. He pleads our case because
He loves us.
revealed His love for us through the greatest act of self-sacrifice a man could
perform-He gave His life for us. God became one of us. Christ has identified
with us, and He wants to enable us to live fulfilled lives. The church owes its
life to the Word of promise, and is nourished and preserved by the same Word.
If the soul has the Word, it is rich and is lacking nothing of peace, of
righteousness, of salvation, of joy, of liberty. Advent's mood calls us to a
mature, clear-sighted and steadfast faith. The real meaning of Christmas lies
in the combination of magical ceremonies and the message that God has broken
through our human selfishness.
Gospel adds perspective whereby the reader is led all the way back to Creation
to see even that in the light of the resurrection. John points us continually
toward Jesus and His mission. John's life is directed toward Jesus and in
service of His kingdom. We must let go of EVERYTHING that is blocking God's
path to us. To have a relationship with Christ is to have a relationship of
openness to God and share His eternal life. The world can't understand the
light and darkness, but the darkness of our universe has been scattered. The
one who is light suffered the darkness of death and hell in our place. The
Crucifixion did not extinguish the light, because Jesus is Lord of Death and
Lord of Life. We are not in darkness any more. We have "seen the
light". God's word has created us and bound us together.
immensity is always flooding us with grace. Our spiritual blindness can't drive
us away from God's grace. The major consequence of our sinful nature is
blindness-to truth, reality, the nature of sin and the necessity of a Saviour.
The Saviour of humankind has been given to us. The Word is immersed in every
aspect of our lives-from empty problems at work, to temptation, to fun-time
partying, to betrayal, to exhilaration, to grief, to laughter, to pain. We draw
grace from God's entire resources---an inexhaustible warehouse. From his
fullness we have all received grace upon grace. Grace and truth came through
Gospels depict the glory of God coming upon Jesus at the transfiguration;
however, John sees the glory of God in all Jesus says and does. In John's mind,
the hour for Jesus to be glorified is the crucifixion.
If we say we
have fellowship with God, that means we partake of his divine nature. If we say
we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. If we have fellowship with God, we must
be like Him and make room in our lives and hearts for others AND for Jesus.
Christmas can be a time for sheer joy, but it can also be a time of great pain
and sorrow, especially for those who have lost a loved one, or who are in poor
health, or who have lost their job, or who have suffered other kinds of losses.
There is hope in the true story of Christmas-hope God gave us in the baby, our
redeemer, Jesus Christ. The Light of the World brings hope to the world. God
lives here within us. If God keeps his promises, is it because he wants to or
is it because of his nature? He won't do anything other than what He has done
through Christ and is now doing simply because he can't do anything else.
I read a
news story the other day about a move that is underway to make Jesus Christ the
honorary king of Poland. Jesus came to earth on that first Christmas over 2,000
years ago to create His earthly kingdom and draw us into his heavenly kingdom
by spreading the Good News of the Word and salvation, especially to the poor,
the hungry, and the oppressed throughout the world, especially in countries
such as China, Kenya, Iran, Nigeria, India and Iraq. Even in these darkest
corners of the world, the light shines so brightly that it pierces the deepest,
darkest corners of man's soul and opens his heart to the joy of the Christmas
Christmas Day message this year, Pope Benedict issued an appeal for the poor,
the exploited, and all those who suffer. He said (quote):
of the 21st century appears as sure and self-sufficient master of its own
destiny, the avid proponent of uncontested triumphs, yet this is not the case.
People continue to die of hunger and thirst, disease and poverty, in this age
of plenty and unbridled consumerism. Some people remain enslaved, exploited and
stripped of their dignity; others are victims of racial and religious hatred,
hampered by intolerance and discrimination. Others see their own bodies and
those of dear ones, particularly their children, maimed by weaponry, by
terrorism and by all sorts of violence at a time when everyone invokes and
acclaims progress. It is for this reason that Jesus Christ is reborn. For he
knows that even today, we need him. Despite humanity's many advances, man has
always been the same: a freedom poised between good and evil, between life and
Even a small
light can dispel a great darkness---even a tiny candle can drive darkness out
of a large room. Light and darkness are opposites, but they are not opposites
of equal power. Light is stronger than darkness; darkness cannot prevail
against it...Similarly darkness cannot overcome those who walk in the light. To
witness for Christ often provokes the forces of darkness to violence, and
Christian witnesses often become martyrs---a reality as true today in many
parts of the world as it ever was in the Roman world of Christ's time. Much of
the world today is still in rebellion. It still prefers darkness to light,
because its deeds are evil. That is true of all of us at certain points in our
light pierces the darkest corners of our own reality of sins and failures. This
same light motivates us more than guilt. No amount of good works can completely
erase the guilt and stain of failure and sin from our past. We have the very
real Spirit of the Living God whose ministry in the world is to reveal to us
our need for a Saviour. This very same Saviour took our problem of sin and
nailed it to the Cross. While the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, He then
leads us to Christ, giving us the gift of faith that we might receive the grace
of God. Christ's forgiveness causes us to become new people. Then, by grace, we
are able to walk in the new works that replace the old works.
encompasses both word and deed. It is not us doing through God. It is God
living His life through us. It is Immanuel, God is with us. We are called to
proclaim the righteousness of God to celebrate the gift of life. We make God
known in this world through our witness to God's love. We stand on the strength
of God's love and reach out to embrace those God sends to us.
joyous Christmas time, we can't even attempt to understand the Word. All we can
do is stand in awe and wonder beside the crib, seeing in and through the child
"the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace
and truth". The light is visible in the Child AND in all who are struck by
the light that comes from the Child.