Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Light in the Darkness


My sermon yesterday: preached at the Rusthof Methodist Church.
 
Christmas 2012
Joh 1:1 – 14

  Text: Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Intro: I want to take us to Christmas day nearly 2 000 years ago. It is 100 years after Jesus was born, and a group of Christians have met to celebrate his birthday – but they did not feel like there was much to celebrate. In the first 100 years it felt like everything had gone wrong:
1.     They had experienced two insane Emperors:
          Caligula – who was assassinated by his Roman guard.
          Nero – who killed his own mother, and probably burned Rome to get rid of shacks that blocked his palace entrance.
2.    70 AD a huge Roman army conquered Jerusalem. Their commander was Titus, the son of the Emperor, who killed one million residents, and took another 97 000 captive as slaves.   
3.    79 AD: Mount Vesuvius explodes, completely destroying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the deaths of at least 20 000 people.
4.    89 AD : Titus the Emperor dies, and his brother Domitian begins a reign of terror.
And so the World is in Chaos:
Ø  Corrupt Emperors who reign by terror
Ø  Jerusalem is gone – no place to worship
Ø  And the Christians are thought to be remnants of the rebellion in Jerusalem.
A very gloomy Christmas gathering of Christians: Their teacher gets them together and says to them: let me remind us about Jesus:Their teacher’s name is John.And John says that Jesus came for a time such as this: Jesus comes to bring light into darkness.

When John begins talking about Jesus his story opens with the words “In the beginning”. Let us note that this Gospel starts in the beginning: this is not with Mary and Joseph (as in Matthew and Luke) or with John the Baptizer (as in Mark);John takes us to a time before creation! This is a deliberate link with Creation accounts of Genesis:
Gen 1:1  In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
Gen 1:2  the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep
This appeals to the fear that Jewish people had of water. When the world began it was wild and chaotic – and then God stepped in! The breath of God moved over the face of the waters and brought order from chaos.

This Gospel of John is written at a time when the world seemed to be in chaos. And it is in this context that John writes to the first Christian Church: “Remember how in the beginning God brought order from chaos? Well God has done it again”.
  Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God. Joh 1:3  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being Joh 1:4  in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John is saying: Do not be afraid if you see chaos around you – God will bring order; Do not be afraid of the darkness – God will bring light; Do not be afraid if you see death around you – God will bring life. And how will he do it? He will do it in the same way as he did in the beginning:
He will speak a Word.
God said “Let there be light …. And there was light”
God said “Let there be dry land … and there was dry land”
God said “Let there be plants, and animals, and people … and they came into being”

And

God said “Let there be love … and there was Jesus”
When there is chaos – God speaks a word and brings his order.
Let us hear the invitation: to discover the links with our own lives.
We also can be overwhelmed by the darkness:
·         Internationally: Children killed at a preschool in USA /
·         We still have corruption: Emperors / businesses / officials.
·         We have death on our roads: Since 1 December an average of 34 people a day have died on our roads.

Perhaps personal darkness:
Ø  Sadness at the dinner table when you see an open place…. A beloved member of the family has died.
Ø  Illness has struck you down – and this Christmas feels dark
Ø  The year ended badly and you feel like 2013 is dark?
Ø   My personal darkness: my youngest daughter is not here for Christmas: Amy is working in Japan – and a bit of light is missing for Christmas.

 We have darkness around us the question arises: “Who will speak the Word of God?”
Who will speak light into darkness …?
And my question is:
Will you speak the light of Jesus to someone else?

A choice for today:
Either go to lunch and speak about the darkness – complain about everything that is wrong in your life ..Price of food / corruption / your mother-in-law
Or you can speak of the light. Tell stories of how Jesus has helped you through this past year;

I want to challenge you to go from here to:

1.     Celebrate:  This is claiming light even when it feels like darkness.

2.    Light a light for someone else today..

 So am offering you a reminder – a candle. (Stewards to hand out candles)
Light this before your meal and pray a prayer where you claim the light of Jesus for your family, and where you speak with your family of a way in which you can light the darkness of someone else..

1 comment:

Barbara Shallue said...

This is a beautiful sermon for Christmas and for a new year, reminding us of the choice we have and the impact we make on others. I light a candle every Sunday but this year will try to do more to be a candle. Thank you, Pete! Wishing you many blessings in 2013! (P.S. take the word verification off so it's easier for those of us with old-age-eyes to comment!)