A Verse in Light – Christmas Eve 2018

Texts: Luke 2:1-14; Isaiah 9:2-7

Once again, we gather here
to celebrate joy this time of year.
To raise our voices in song and in mirth,
proclaiming the wonder of Christ’s holy birth.

And yes it’s my tradition, I hope you don’t mind,
tonight’s Christmas message is completely in Rhyme.

But it’s not that easy to take something so light,
to try to speak of something so profoundly right.
Most of the time, the trappings of the season
seem so trite, so shallow, and we wonder the reason.
Malls tell us to get out there and buy, buy, buy
but have we ever stopped, and asked them “why?”

Why is it our loves, our hopes, and our cares,
can only be symbolized by this product for hair?
It seems kind of silly, but really it’s true,
that we’ve bought into it in all that we do.

The gift of this season, is one of hope, peace, and love,
of a wonderful gift that was sent from above,
to a world full of hurt, of pain, and great sorrow,
to defy the darkness, of a brighter tomorrow.

Yet this is a message we need BEFORE
we come tonight, and stagger through that door.
We bear our scars from the stores and the sales,
of parking lot nightmares and tired children’s wails.

At the beginning of Advent, we had a reminder,
to try and not get caught in the seasonal grinder.
It wasn’t easy, a real challenge if you will.
a prompt for us to listen and be still…

Worship Fully. Spend Less. Was all that it asked.
Give More. Love All. –it seems quite simple a task-
maybe listen and reflect on the love of God,
yet in today’s world, we would think it quite odd.

But the message of the holidays we see in the mall,
is not what Jesus intended, no hardly at all!
So let’s take a moment, to think and reflect,
on the stories of where it started, and pay it respect.

So we turn to Isaiah, that prophet of old,
who made a proclamation, a child foretold.
In ancient times, when darkness enshrouded,
people lived in fear and their future was clouded.

Politics and intrigue had overshadowed their faith
Long they had forgotten the wonder of grace.
Seeking alliances, amidst the halls of power,
they no longer trusted, their demeanour was dour.

The future seemed hopeless, it was sure to be,
Israel would be swallowed by an invading army.

Yet Isaiah looked to the future without despair,
because he believed that God really cares.
So he proclaimed good news when no one would hear,
of this future of hope, when God would come near.

“The people in darkness have seen a great light”
A proclamation at the time did not seem so right.
But proclaim it and share it he did in that day,
I’m just not sure how many people he swayed.

But wait just a minute, that was then this is now,
so why don’t you tell me this matters how?

Well… I think it’s important to take a close look,
and reflect on the wisdom from this good book.
You see, we need to give experience its due,
because from it we can learn something new.

Midst war, strife and turmoil this ancient prophet spoke,
When Israel’s own kings were little more than a joke.
Assyria, and Egypt, and other powers-that-be,
used Jerusalem as a pawn, and everyone could see
that this would not end, or rather not end well.
so Isaiah expressed hope of one called Emmanuel.

Maybe a king, a righteous heir of David’s line,
who would take up the throne, who’d have a real spine
to stand up to these powers, and remain faithful and true
to the God of their ancestors, who would see them through.

But his words had an echo that would stretch far over time,
Beyond even Isaiah’s own vision, it was truly sublime.
The wish for a child, one who would set all things right,
became a hope for the future, and gave a new light.

Midst those times in history when darkness closed in,
Isaiah’s wonderful lyrics became a new hymn,
Never give up… Never say die…
Even when Jerusalem in ruins would lie.

God’s up to something, the people would say,
Isaiah’s words would help them to pray,
even in the midst of their own darkness and strife,
it was a real sense of hope that gave them new life.

Isaiah proclaimed hope in the gloom,
when everyone else was surrounded by doom.
But the real treasure, the true shining light,
would come many years later, on that first holy night.

A night on which we now proclaim,
God almighty, a humble child became.
It was centuries later, his words became true,
it reminds us that God takes the long-view.

It is in Jesus, the tiny child in the manger,
and Isaiah’s words become a bit stranger.
For the hope of a king, a good ruler on the throne,
Seemed so out of place in this musty first home.

But God’s point was not a majestic, imperial king,
But the humble contrast of this tiny little thing.
A helpless little baby, human like you and me,
That in such poor surroundings it is God that we see.

So today, when everyone talks of recession,
and the mood out there is in a depression,
we need to remember that in the future is hope,
and maybe these words can help us to cope.

So maybe we just need to take a little time,
To step back, to pause, and remember that line
That midst this season’s frenetic busy pace,
What’s most important is truly God’s grace.

God’s great gift, not expecting anything in return,
Given to us, without reserve, and nor did we earn.
A lesson most powerful, but we did not deserve,
But God loves us still, and without reserve.

That is the message the Christ child does bring,
At the core of our faith, and why we do sing.
It’s a story so powerful, so filled with promise and hope,
a child’s cry from the manger, with a truly vast scope.

Yet it’s really so simple, because all can see
the wonder and miracle of a little baby.
In a time where everyone was expecting the majestic
God came to us in a way that was so domestic.
It’s revealing, and shows us something of God’s heart,
that the wonder of Christmas is truly an art.
because it helps us to look beyond the big things,
to the tiny little miracles that each day brings.

It can be hard, don’t get me wrong,
God is there, and has been for so long.
When the darkness seems to be more than we can handle
The hope of Christmas is to just light a candle.

It is something tangible, and it’s certainly not trite
that no amount of darkness, can overcome light.
It flees away at the tiniest little spark,
When a candle is lit, it’s no longer dark.

That’s the message of both the prophets and Luke,
of light overcoming darkness, it’s truly no fluke,
that together they find focus on this night most holy,
pointing to the child in a manger so lowly.

Jesus is born, a candle is lit
It can’t really be any more fit.
it shines right through even the darkest facade
That in the end, we all matter to God.
It inspires us to see everyone in a whole different light,
to spur us to action and live what is right.

And so now I finish, this poem draws to a close,
I hope you stayed with me without taking a doze.
And I wish you God’s blessings, this Christmas again,
With the Christ Child, and Holy Spirit, I now say Amen.