Thursday, January 3, 2019

Prayer & Healing Homily: Candles, Light & Peace

Prayer and Healing Homily
January 2, 2019
John 1:1-14,14, 17

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable and suitable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

We gather today in the light of the Christmas season: giving thanks to God for the gift of Jesus, the gift of light and the gift of this community. 

The reading we heard tonight is a fraction of what we heard on Christmas Eve as we lit candles in worship. 

There is something holy in the lighting of candles…

When I was a youth director at a church in New Britain, Connecticut, we took our youth group to an event called Night Watch.  We headed into New York
City to the chapel of St. John the Divine where we would spend the night. 

We had a joyous bunch of 7-12 graders ranging in energy levels as the event began.  Most of the 7th graders could be described as ‘bouncy’.  We played some getting to know you games as we met the other youth who were part of the overnight program.  When it was almost bedtime, we were told that we would be able to see the chapel.  We calmly headed upstairs and before entering the chapel space, we were each given a lit candle. 

We were invited to walk anywhere in the chapel space, but were asked to maintain silence. 

As we entered the chapel, we saw the lights of the individual candles dotting the space of the chapel that was 3 football fields in length.  It was amazing to be in such a vast space, with such a large group, but to only know of each other’s presence by the light of their candles. 

I knew the light of Christ was shining in that space, because I could see the dots of light throughout the chapel. 

Here, on Christmas Eve, I knew the light of Christ was shining as candlelight filled this space at all of our services.  At the 8pm service, as I distributed communion on crying room side of the sanctuary, I could hear that someone was very unhappy in the crying room.  Even with special music playing, the cries coming from that room were entering into the sanctuary. 

As communion ended, we lit candles, we heard the passage from John, and we heard the choir sing, O Lux Beatissima…one of my favorite pieces that we have sung at Trinity. 

As the light was passed around the sanctuary the choir sang these words:
O Light most blessed,
Fill the inmost heart
Of all thy faithful.

Without your grace,
There is nothing in us,
Nothing that is not harmful.

As I looked around the sanctuary, I saw faces young and old, looking into the light of their candles.  There is something about the light of a candle, surrounded by the calm stillness of this worship space that causes us all to pause and look. 

Then we joined in singing Silent Night.  As the words of the familiar and beloved tune filled the sanctuary, my eyes were drawn to the face of a mother who was peering in the direction of the crying room.  With a smile on her face she was trying to connect with her daughter in the crying room.  At this point the crying room contained two dads, each holding their young daughters who were eagerly peering out the window at what was happening in the sanctuary. 

There was no crying or sight of any tears…at least in that moment…
The four sets of eyes in the crying room were intently looking at the light of the candles and listening to the sounds of the congregation singing. 

It was not a silent moment, but oh, was it a holy moment. 
There in the light, was peace. 

And the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 

It is good for us to hear this passage again in light of the Christmas season, because even though we may walk in the darkness of pain, loneliness, sickness of uncertainty of the future, the light of Christ still shines in our midst. 

The light of Christ still shines this night and all nights.  The presence of Christ still breaks into our world…and the darkness that is part of our world cannot comprehend it. 

In this season of life and light, we long for the promise of the resurrection, the promise of God breaking into our world…the promise that God will reign in a new way. 

That light brings grace and truth into our hearts, our homes and our world each day. 

I don’t know about you, but as we near the end of the season of Christmas, I hesitate to put all the additional lights away.  There is something about the soothing lights on the tree, those decorating the porch and those strewn about the living room that I’m not quite ready to let go of just yet. 

In what ways can we continue to let that light shine? 
How does the light of Christ bring peace to you this time of year? 

Our call and our mission is to continue to let that light shine, no matter what.  We are called to show others the grace and truth of Christ in our everyday lives. 

We are called to let that light shine so that others may see our good works that give glory to our father in heaven. 

We are always in situations that allow us the opportunity to let Christ’s light shine.  As a new year begins, look for ways to share that light, that peace, that grace with others. 

Look for ways to let that light shine.

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

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