Today’s post is my reflection from our Christmas Eve service. Merry Christmas, folks!
Advent is a season that I call the “Painful Hope.” During its four weeks we are meant to put ourselves in the shoes of our Jewish cousins who longed for the arrival of the Messiah as foreign empire after foreign empire held dominion over God’s people. We also remember the longing of our Christian brothers and sisters throughout history who proclaimed the lordship of Christ even as the powers of worldly empire tried to stomp out the light of Christ’s Kingdom. Advent reminds us that we live in the “already but not yet.” The powers of sin and death are defeated, and yet humanity still struggles under the weight of war, disease, famine, crime, and oppression.
But on Christmas, like Easter a bit later in the year, something amazing happens. Our painful hope is transformed by both memory and story into something else – a defiant hope.
The powers of this world tell us compassion empowers lawlessness, kindness should only be shown to people who can be kind in return, and faith is something which we are meant to outgrow. But tonight we light the flame that defies the darkness and says, “No. We will not bend our knee to the lust for power, or be consumed by fear and hatred. Because tonight we declare that God has seen us in our distress and sent his Son so that we may be lifted up out of the mires of misery and despondency. Tonight, Christ is born and the darkness will flee. For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
Tonight after the song is sung and the benediction given we will extinguish our candles. But in the defiant hope of Christmas never let Christ’s flame go out. Amen.