This week we are celebrating Christmas in July. We are half way through the year and often we forget all the rich meaning behind the Christmas Story by Febuary. So to help you hold on to that meaning during the year we celebrate the birth of Jesus in July!! Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
During the winter in Northern Michigan, we are very aware of the darkness. Days are short and nights are long and cold. In fact during the winter months Northern Michiganders can experience up to 18 hours of darkness. Many people in communities north of the 45th parallel, like we are, suffer from a form of winter depression called “seasonal affect disorder.” It doesn’t take long for cold winters with only 6-7 hours of daylight to bring us down into the dumps. An extended period of overcast sky or a few days of mostly cloudy skies can prove to be overwhelming for some. Either way living in darkness is difficult and challenging. We may stumble over hazards in our path. We become fearful or apprehensive of who or what might be in the dark...just around the corner or right in front of us. We just don’t know because we just can’t see in the darkness. When I was a little boy I use to get the biggest kick out of sneaking into my sisters room without them knowing I was there…turning the lights off on them. Or who hasn’t, in fun, turned the lights off on a friend in the bathroom. They freak out and yell and even threaten, but we walk away laughing at their dark despair. They know their safe, they no there’s really nothing lurking in the darkness, but still it’s unnerving to be left in the dark…especially with your pants down.
Have you noticed how a problem of any kind seems so much worse at 3:00 a.m. than it does at 3:00 p.m.? That’s because it’s DARK! Darkness seems to hold an ominous power over us, no matter what the circumstances are darkness startles us, it frightens us, and it down right terrifies us. Spiritual darkness is just as frightening. Not having the light of God near us or in us leaves as stranded and vulnerable to whatever dark spiritual forces are lurking. Truthfully the world lives in spiritual darkness. The book of Genesis begins with darkness covering the face of the world. Israel’s Exodus from Egypt begins in the darkness of the Passover. The life of Jesus begins in the darkness of the stable. Advent also begins in darkness: the darkness of “this present age."
If you have ever driven in a snowstorm or through dense fog where visibility is poor, you may have felt much more secure being able to see and follow the taillights of the vehicle in front of you. That vehicle was in essence blazing a trail for you to follow.
Once while attending an intensive course for Seminary at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, it snowed…like it had never snowed before…in Oklahoma and Missouri. It was so bad that the president of the seminary suggested strongly that no one leave until at least the next day, but me being the Michigan born and raised guy that I am said, “What’s this guy know about snow storms?” So I started out. It wasn’t so bad at first, but the closer I got to Oklahoma the worse it got. It got so bad the state highway patrol closed down the interstate! We, me and the three semi-trucks brave enough to be out, were diverted off the Will Rogers Turnpike and on to so backcountry road. There were moments during that storm I could not see what so ever!!! It was frightening! To make a long story short a normally 8 hour drive was made into a 12 hour drive and was about as close to death driving as I’ve ever been.
The words of Isaiah this morning remind us again that the light, which shines in the darkness, is the Christ Child. The light of Emmanuel, God with us, the incarnate God, is more brilliant than any light we can imagine. Jesus is the light of God's personal invasion into human history. Long ago, the prophet Isaiah gave us clues of the coming righteous ruler, the Messiah. This person wouldn’t be just any earthly king, not just an extraordinary human, but truly God. The prophet Isaiah is preaching to prepare us for the arrival of the light. Isaiah is expressing hope and expectation for the one who is to come, which will blot out darkness and dispel the fears of the world. This ruler will be Wonderful counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting and my favorite, Emanuel…God with us.
Please take a moment to view this short video.
**A social network Xmas: video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sghwe4TYY18
The beauty of this message is that God is with us and God will dispel all the darkness. Emanuel has come and because of him we have seen a great light!
We are living in a world that often seems dark. Long shadows extend across our community, shadows that will loom larger unless we all bring the light of Christ from far and near to dispel the darkness. One small light can pierce the darkness. And Jesus, whose birth we are celebrating, tells us that Christ is the light of the world and that light is in us. Long ago, "God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw that the light was good" (Genesis 1:3-4). Countless generations later, God spoke again through the prophet Isaiah to say, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16).
The first time God spoke to light up the world, the second time God's Word came to light up our hearts with the promise of a coming king, a Savior. How important it is to have that light within. When we've got it on the inside, our whole world is a brighter place and we carry with us the incarnation of that light when Christ is in our hearts. Bring your light into the dark places of your world. Brighten the corner where you live. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit