Christmas Eve Message
Dec. 24, 2018
Pastor Rich Knight
It’s hard to think of anything else the church does that’s more beautiful than a Christmas Eve Candle-light service. Isn’t that true? There’s a radiance, a sparkle, a warmth, a vibrancy, a genuine aliveness to it all. So simple and yet captivating. Inviting and inspiring.
And the idea and the reality, of one candle – the Christ Candle – being shared by us all and lighting up the whole room, is beautiful to think about, and even better when we experience it.
A Candlelight Ceremony symbolizes the Christian life better than anything else I can think of.
- We get our Light from the Christ Candle.
It’s not our “brilliant” light that we’re trying to shine. It’s the Light of God’s love! We’ve received this love through the beautiful life of Jesus Christ. He told us we were loved (“as the Father has loved me, so I love you”) and he demonstrated that by how he lived and love. His compassion, especially to those on the outskirts of society, his healing words and actions, his teachings on God’s love, his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection all speak to his great love for us. That’s the love we receive through him. As St. John wrote, “We love because God first loved us.”
- We then share that light with one another.
It’s strongest and most inspiring when we’re together. And we can do more when we’re all together. The whole truly is greater than the sum of the parts.
And it’s more inspiring to share your candles with others. Think of the contrast of lighting a candle by yourself on Christmas Eve vs sharing the candle-lighting with many others.
Martin Luther, the great reformer, once said, “When I’m alone in my room trying to pray, my faith is often dried up within me. But when I am in the great congregation singing and praying to God, my faith is reborn!”
Candles joined together shine ever brighter.
We get our light from Christ. We share it and celebrate with one another.
- And then our job is to take that Light out into the World.
The world has enough darkness. It needs more light. That’s our job. That’s our calling.
I’d like to close by sharing an illustration that comes from Robert Fulghum, a minister, author. Poem – “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
Fulghum tells a story in one of his books about a seminar he took in Greece with a professor of ancient Greek Philosophy, Dr. Popadopolis. At the end of the wee=klong class the professor finished his last lecture and then said, “Are there any questions?”
Robert Fulghum raised his hand and said, “I have one. What’s the meaning of life?”
The class laughed, but the professor could see by the look on Fulghum’s face that it was a serious question. Dr. Popadopolis said, “I will tell you my answer to that question,” and he opened his wallet and pulled out a small piece of glass. And then he told this story:
“When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor, and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one.
And by scratching it on a stone I made it round, with smooth edges. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light in to dark places where the sun could never reach – in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.
“I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life.
“I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light – truth, understanding, knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.
“I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the dark places in the hearts of men & women – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of life.”
This is also the meaning of Christmas!
The Light has come to us in Jesus of Bethlehem.
We’re invited to receive the Light, to celebrate and share the Light with each other and then to share it with the world.
The world needs more love, more compassion, more kindness, more justice, more understanding, more light.
This is the meaning of a candlelight service.
This is the meaning of our lives.
Think about it.
Let’s pray about it.
Light of the World, come to us now. Shine into each of our hearts tonight, that we may truly see The Light. May your light burn so beautifully within us that we can’t help but share the Light of your love with others. In your precious name, Amen.
Here’s a great Kathy Troccoli song to go along with this message: Go Light Your World
Christmas Eve Benediction
Go forth to share the Light of Christ in a world that needs more light.
Be of good courage.
Hold fast to that which is good.
Render to no one evil for evil.
Strengthen the faint-hearted.
Support the weak.
Honor all people.
Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And may the blessing of God – Creator, Son & Holy Spirit, remain with you this night and always. Amen.