07 November 2016

A Stunning Homily

by Pr. Steven Schave. Feast and enjoy! I told him I wanted to interrupt at the end and announce: "We will now sing The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns."

The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[e] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[f] who is at the Father's side,[g] he has made him known.
In the beginning, darkness was upon the face of the deep, and into that dark void of a raging abyss, God called out "Let there be light." And by the power of His creating Word there was light; God speaks and so it is done. The first radiation of life was breathed into our world by the Spirit of God to give us light and warmth where there was once only darkness and bitter cold. The "Word of God was there at the beginning and all things where made through Him." "In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

 But oh how quickly mankind plunges themselves into the darkness… trying to hide from the light after we have eaten of the forbidden fruit. God is the pillar of cloud and fire that separates us from the darkened world, but we continually dive into the shadows again and again. When the light of God's Word exposes us, we run to the farthest corner to look for a dark place. But there is nowhere we can hide, for God knows even the deepest, darkest, places in our hearts.

 And so we wander in the shadows, aimlessly looking for the peace, hope, comfort, warmth and love that only the Light can give. We stub our toes on the dangerous corners hidden in the darkness and curse God as if it were His fault. And our search for anything good in the darkness is hopeless and leads only to an eternal chasm, so deep it is, that we no longer recognize the light… the darkness unable to bear its presence. And so for all of us who dwell in the darkness of our sins, the coffin door closes, and the light is no more.

But like a blinding shaft of light, this announcement comes beaming down this very morning "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." Did you feel the awesome impact of that? More powerful than a supernova, when the Word that was there at the Beginning of the World takes on our flesh, it is a cosmic collision of Heaven and Earth! With that God says, Let there Be Light! The shepherds and the wise men were guided by the Star of Bethlehem on a dark winter's night to look into the eyes of the One who would lighten up our darkened universe again… brighter than any star. The presence of God tabernacling among us again… not in tents or temples of stone… but in our own flesh and blood. God and sinner reconciled, the Light of the World shines forth.

We live in such dark days, but know this; the darkness will not overcome, because Christ will take all of the world's darkness upon Himself. "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." And because this world did not recognize Him they crucified Him. Jesus Christ, the Word that became our flesh to redeem it, must walk through the darkness to bring us into the light: through the darkness of temptation, mourning and grief, pain and suffering, and even the valley of the shadow of death in the world's darkest hour. And to be sure, when the eyes that once lit up the Heavens went dim on the cross, this world only saw the darkness of death… the light was hidden to them. But there was something more, much more.
God once sent a small band of men led by Gideon to conquer what seemed like an invincible army in a battle of the light against the darkness. Gideon's men were armed with nothing more than a trumpet in one hand and a torch covered by a jar in the other. But with the blast of the trumpet, when they shattered the earthen vessels that held their flames upon a post, their enemies scattered in fear of the light and were destroyed. So when Christ was dying on the cross, like the blast of a trumpet, He cried out "It is finished". And when the earthen vessel of the Word made flesh was shattered upon the post of a cross, the Light of the World beamed into the evil realms of darkness… and your enemies of sin, death and the devil went running, because they were completely defeated by the Light. The darkness no longer had any hold on you: the light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it. Because on the third day, God the Father looked upon the cold, lifeless body of His Son and He said, "Let there be Light!" by raising Him up through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Light shone again for the world to see.

And that is the same Light that shines in you and me even in our darkest moments. God sustains the Light of our faith through His Word which enlightens. He strengthens our faith by giving us the Word made flesh as we come to His table to be in communion with the Light of the World which tabernacles in bread and wine. And in our baptisms God poured out the light upon us with a light that no darkness shall overcome. Where there was once only darkness and bitter cold, life was breathed into us by the Spirit of God to give us light and warmth: enveloped in the love of God, robed in His righteousness, born of God as His children. So by grace through faith, God says, "Let there be light!" And it is that light which sends us out to help others who cower in the darkness... like John the Baptist our life in the light is our testimony that others might believe.

We are witnesses to God's grace, in that we have been led out of darkness and into the Light. And there is no greater witness than when we are shadowed by our darkest moments and yet others still see the Light shining through. Others will see in those times that we are not looking down into the dark abyss of this world, but instead are looking into the manger and outside an empty tomb where the Morning Star has turned the night into day for us. Christ who knows our suffering, cares for us at all times and He shines in us. Because even when we take our last breath in this dark world, and the candle of our life is snuffed out, others will see a peace and joy that can only come from the Light of the World. We have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ and when we depart from this world we will look into the glowing eyes of our Savior. And in the blink of an eye when the Light of the World returns to this world of shadows again, He will raise up our earthly vessels even buried in the deepest, darkest tomb. And with the blast of a trumpet He will proclaim "Let there be light!"

I know it's said that it is darkest before the dawn, and based on what all is being said lately it sounds like the sky is falling, and maybe it is, maybe it is… but in these dark and latter days, know this: the dawn is coming soon, very soon… bringing light and life… soon, very soon, God will dwell among His people in all His glory… Father, Son and Holy Spirit… and there will be no need for the sun, neither the moon… because the light of Christ will be the light of the World… and the darkness, the darkness will be no more. In Jesus name, Amen.

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