We gather this evening in the darkness of night while our nights continue to grow until the winter solstice. Similarly, we gather this evening in a world with darkness and you may or may not have the sense that the darkness is continuing to grow.
Advent acknowledges the darkness while preparing our world, our nation, our communities, our homes, and our hearts to welcome Christ.
The darkness of night is simply the lack of light. We prepare our homes this winter season with the glow of Christmas lights, which in my home provides enough light for necessary tasks.
Similarly, the darkness of our world is simply the lacking Light of Christ. We prepare the church with the Advent wreath, which shines brighter with each passing week as we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love until we welcome the Christ child into the world again with the lighting of the Christ Candle in its center.
And yet, the darkness is not confined to these four weeks of Advent or the winter season. Darkness exists 365 days a year, within the entire world, as well as every nation, community, home, and heart. And thus, we are called to bear and to shine forth the Light of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE and CHRIST continually.
In our baptismal rite, I received this candle. It was lit from the Christ Candle and held a flame from the Light of Christ. As it was given to me, I was told to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
In our Baptisms, we commit ourselves to carrying the Light of Christ within our hearts, souls, and lives. We commit to bearing the Light of Christ in Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love into the dark corners of our hearts, homes, communities, nation, and the world. We commit to proclaiming Christ in thought, word, and deed through imitation; to seeking justice; to acting with compassion and mercy; and to loving and serving all people, but especially the most vulnerable.
And so, I invite us this evening to re-commit ourselves to bearing the Light of Christ into our homes, our communities, our nation, and the world with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love through proclaiming Christ in thought, word, and deed while seeking justice and acting with compassion and mercy in the loving service of our neighbors near and far.
And to give the glory and the praise to our gracious God above. Amen.
Originally preached on 15 December 2021 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Chandler, Arizona).
“You are the salt of the earth: but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be his. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:13-16, NRSV