Christmas Eve Meditation


God of Surprising Generosity and Unexpected Grace,
We have come to hear the ancient story and sing the carols of our childhood; In our time here, prepare our hearts for a new invasion of Your Light; Once again open our souls and our lives to the miracle of your sacred birth. May Your gentle Presence captivate and challenge us and we pray the darkness that we may have brought with us this night may be penetrated and scattered by the power of Your love. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

I’m sorry that you had to be subjected to the unsavoury characters of worry, despair, war, hatred and tonight. After all, on this night of family celebration, it seems unfair that they would invade this safe space of joy. But they are certainly not strangers to most of us. They show their faces more than we might like to admit. Whenever they are around you can bet their chief goal is to eradicate any semblance of hope, peace, joy and love.

Whenever they are present, they bring us down and discourage us. But the light shines in the darkness and from every generation, we see and understand the power of light. In today’s Time’s Columnist, the article described the lighting of the menorah at the Legislature to mark the beginning of Hanukkah with a universal message about the power of light, An eight-day celebration of the triumph over an army that tried to force the people of Israel to assimilate to Greek culture. When they lit a menorah, they found only a small amount of olive oil remained. What should have lasted one day kept the menorah lit for eight days.

Like the oil supply that was more powerful than expected as the miracle of the oil kept the menorah lit for eight days., The Rabbi reminded that every individual can surprise themselves with their own strength. “The message of Hanukkah is: We should never underestimate the power of light that we have. We should realize that we have exactly the light that is necessary for us,”
What light shines in our darkness? For each of us there is an abundance of things this season that keep these predators at bay. Thankfully we are here because we have not given in to the persuasive murmurings of the darkness. Still it seems never to be far away… just around the corner waiting to pounce. The characters of Worry, War, Despair and Hatred seem to know our trigger points and catch us when we may be unsuspecting.

But the light shines and that is the light of our faith that Christ came into this world of darkness and yet nothing has ever been able to extinguish that light. It has burned during war, during the worry and fret of a nation, in intense seasons of despair and even when hatred is at it’s worst. But the luminescence of Christ’s light is here again – to remind us – to reassure us – to empower us and to redeem us from what would try to do us in…but thanks be to God, God’s light still shines and nothing can put it out. Nothing except the things that we give more power to than God’s light.

I once saw the movie, Life of Pi, which is a story of a young man named Pi whose family owned a zoo in India. As a young man, Pi was surrounded by persons of faith and came to know and love God more intimately. Eventually his family decided to pack up their zoo, put it on a cargo ship and sail with it to Canada. There is a terrible storm. Pi ends up, a survivor on a lifeboat, but he is not alone. Who is with him on the lifeboat? You will need to see the movie or read the book for yourself, but it does leaves us with a powerful question. Actually two completely different versions of the story of the lifeboat are given, which leaves us wondering which version is true? Who really was in that lifeboat with Pi? Which version of the story will be come to believe? We only have Pi’s report about both versions. One version of the story seems unbelievable – but fascinating, filled with mystery and wonder, as well as suffering and pain. The other story is completely believable, but is a story of utter darkness. Since we have no evidence to go on either way, we are left to believe the version of the story that we prefer to believe. We are able to choose which narrative is true. The author of the Life of Pi brings us to this point of choice, and then says, “And so it is with God.”

What will we choose to do with the obvious threats to our safety and our sanity, to our peace and to our person?

We are here because we will believe, and in fact, we will rely on, the narrative that says,

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
We will not believe the alternative narrative of hopelessness and despair. We will not believe the narrative that violence is the solution to violence, nor that hatred in kind is the appropriate response to being hated.

And we will live in the light of this candle; the light of hope and peace, the light of joy, and the light of love. This is our narrative. This is the Christmas story.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”