Christmas Eve B: On Them Light Has Shined

The First Reading for Christmas Eve is Isaiah 9:2-7, which starts with this oracle:

2The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness—

on them light has shined.

Here on Heatherhope Farm we started playing Christmas music a few days ago. Listening, our eyes tear up as the feeling overwhelms us that this Christmas is unlike any other we have known. And so much Christmas music resonates with the minor key, evoking the deep mid-winter. The green holly has berries red as blood.

Yes the light shines. We join people through the ages who have lived in a land of deep darkness, longing for redemption. Too often we are oppressed by Satan’s tools of isolation, fear, envy, and violence. Yet the light always breaks through.

The difference today is that everywhere in the world our wisest elders and most beleaguered workers are dying, millions are starved for human touch; and, meanwhile, our leaders face off because of walls they have stupidly built between one another, and because of willful ignorance of injustice.

But the tears came upon us here at Heatherhope not just because of the darkness, but because of the light streaming in. The strains of Christmas music opened our hearts to the powerful memories of Christmases past, the warmth of family and friends who care for us, the sharing of stories, the exchanges of hugs and presents…and most of all, the memories of Christmas worship.

Every remembered Christmas is a memory of Jesus’ tender touch healing the pain. Always it has been candles of grace in the dark. And so, we experience that strange weeping of joy when we realize this drumbeat of doom is being pushed aside for the angels’ song. Nothing is impossible for God, because he has come to us in the birth of a Holy Child, carrying to us the promise of endless peace, with justice and righteousness, onward and forevermore.

We send these Christmas greetings with the sincere hope and prayer that you also see this light in the darkness. And we want to assure you that we are well, and experiencing, every day, the Lord’s gracious Nevertheless.

May your Christmas and New Year be filled with the love of God in Christ Jesus. And may you know that, when you feel a yearning for a deeper connection to the land, we would love to welcome you to consider Heatherhope as your spiritual homeplace. May our concern for one another in community ever be part of that Light that shines in the darkness and will never be overcome.

Peace, Joy, and Love,

Connie and John

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About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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