Four weeks ago, we began a journey that has brought us to this night. Four weeks ago, we started our preparation in both the physical as well as the spiritual sense for this night. This time of preparation is a time for us to reconcile not only with God but with one another. It is a time to attempt to fix what has been broken in our relationships and our lives.
We began with the first candle and the reminder that as Christians we have to have hope, hope that all things will be made new, hope that in whatever God is asking us to do he will walk right beside us all along the way. Hope that with the birth of Jesus Christ, the promise of God has been fulfilled, and light has been brought to earth to lighten the darkness.
We lite the second candle to remind us of the love that God has for us. Ours is not a god that punishes ours is a God that forgives. Ours is not a God that sends a storm and other such things to wipe people out, ours is a God that makes covenant promises with us, and when we stray, God sends his son to show us the way and leave us a path to follow. That son is also the light, the light that will shine before us, so we no longer have to stumble in the darkness.
We then shifted gears a little; we paused in our time of reconciliation and lite the lone pink candle. We heard the message of Mary, and yes, she knew that her soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in the God who saved her. We found the joy of a young girl’s yes when God asked her to do something amazing. We heard from the Gospel of John that the love of God for each of us does not come with a price, does not come with a set of rules other than for us to pay that love forward to our neighbours and the whole world.
We are almost to end of our journey, and we come to find rest and peace, the peace of God that passes all understanding. We learned that we are not perfect, that our lives do not have to be perfect, that Mary and Joseph were not perfect yet God used them because they were willing to take on the task that God asked of them. Sure, they were scared, but God’s promise that he would not abandon them brought them peace. The message for us is that we too can find that peace in God, and we can find rest in his promise that he will love us no matter what.
Then we come to tonight. Tonight we lite the large candle in the centre of all the others, the candle that represents Christ and the light that shall never fade. Each of the surrounding candles has burned down because their light has shown so bight these last weeks, but as each candle burned down another came along to replace it. We heard from the prophet that a son has been born and all authority has been given to him. We heard from Luke that God spoke to the shepherds to tell them not to be afraid for the angel is bringing them a message of great joy, that today Christ s born. And we heard from Paul that hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured out upon us and will remain with us forever.
So what does it all mean? The message of Christmas is easy, love. God sent his only Son because God loves us and wants us to find the right path. God’s gift to us this night is that love that comes without strings, some assembly required, but the directions are clear, and there are others to help. Our job now is to take that love out into the world so it will shine for others to see.
In a few moments, we will dim the lights and pass the flame around the church that will light the candles that we each hold. The fire comes from the candle that represents the love of Christ. The glow is warm to remind us of the warmth of love, the love that God has for us. We will light our candle and then pass this light to another to warm and brighten their day. We will sing Silent Night to remind us of what took place and the birth of the Christ Child. Then, the lights in the church will come back on, and we sing joy to the world as the light has won over the darkness.
Although we will extinguish the light we hold this night, do not let that light go out. Take that light with you wherever you go this night and the days to follow. Pass that light along to another to brighten their day and illumine their path. We have become that center candle, that candle that represents Christ in the world; let that light shine brightly for all the world to see.