Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Lord Has Comforted His People -- A Christmas Message

In the quiet of the night, in lowly estate, the Lord bared forth his holy arm before the eyes of the slumbering nations. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. In the darkness of the darkest night, in poverty, in humility, in the womb of a virgin mother, the Creator of the Cosmos came, and entered into our humanity so that all the ends of the earth might see the salvation of our God.

And on this morning, as the shepherds return to the their sheep, and the angels’ glorias fade into the waning night, as a young mother comforts her newborn child, we know that the Lord has indeed comforted his people.

Comfort – comfort in our weakness. He came, for those who could not come and kneel at the foot of the manger – he came.

Comfort – comfort in our sorrow. He came, for those who had lost hope that God could ever be with them in their despair – he came.

Comfort – comfort in our darkness. He came, for those who had turned from the goodness and mercy of God – he came.

He came to his own and they knew him not. But those who were weak, those who were sorrowful, those whose spirits were clouded by darkness – he came also to them.

He came to a man whose child had died, who called to him in confusion and despair with the words, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” He came to a Samaritan woman at a well, who had been ostracized by her people who, in spiritual thirst, uttered the words “Give me some living water.” He came to a blind beggar, who, though he could not see healer, still called out “Son of David, have mercy.” He came and they received him and they received power to become children of God.

He has come. And as with those of old, so it is this Christmas: He comes to us. The creator of the world, the heavens and the earth, and indeed the cosmos, comes to us. And we behold his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. This grace and truth, in the Word made flesh, in Jesus our Lord, is the light that lightens this dark world, and not only the world at large, but lightens us, at the core of our very being as individuals created in his image and likeness. It is a life-giving light that illumines the darkness of our weakness, our despair, and our sorrow.

In our darkness, it is the light of the presence of God amongst us that never leaves us, that never forsakes us. In our darkness, it is the light of a promise that we are children of God. It is a light that shines this very day. It is a light that will never be extinguished. It is a light that burns for each one of us and for all of us as a people, as a human race. Jesus our Lord is born among us, and by his Spirit he abides with us still, uttering these words, “follow thou me.” So that even in a troubled and saddened world, in the ruins of Jerusalem, the children of God break forth with singing, “The Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations: and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

O God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ became man that we might become the children of God: Grant, we beseech thee, that being made partakers of the divine nature of thy Son, we may be conformed to his likeness; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.[1]

[1] “Collect for the Second Sunday after Christmas,” Book of Common Prayer (Scottish Episcopal Church), 1929, p. 113.

Text copyright 2008 by the Rev. Daniel F. Graves. This post may not be reproduced or redistributed, either in whole or part, by any means, without the express, written permission of the author.

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