Midnight Mass sermon 2017
Our best Christmas present
John 1: 1-14
Here’s an advert from a while back for a press officer in the London diocese of the Church of England. The task for this role is explained like this:
‘The task is to develop communication between God and Londoners…
…with an emphasis on quality of service and urgency.’ !
But this night of all nights we celebrate that God is God. Not confined by quality of service and urgency, or the drive to improve it.
Though Teresa of Avila reminds us that on earth God has no eyes but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours to do his will – still, God is God. And it is first God’s saving work in Jesus, not ours. We have to receive it before we share that good news.
At our crib services earlier, the children were joining the angels in saying to everyone again and again – Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and us: ‘Do not be afraid.’
A less startling but no less damaging expression of fear is anxiety. It seems that part of our being human is to look back fondly on at least some of the past, however rough it was; and often to look forward with some trepidation and anxiety. There’s plenty to be anxious about, you might quite rightly say.
Though we are people who have seen and trusted in the glory of the Word made flesh, we are also people who walk in darkness. We do not always know, see, hear and touch the God who is always with us. Our journey of life must also be a journey of faith.
On that journey, as a Church, we strive to open the doors, turn on the lights, offer healing hospitality, share our sacred stories, celebrate the Eucharist together, witness to hope, and proclaim in how we live that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.
But first we are invited to receive the Lord’s comfort and salvation. Whatever messes and glories and everyday down to earth living we leave behind over the past year; whatever our hopes, dreams, fears for 2018 for the world and for the church – the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. So do not be afraid or anxious. Even if the service is sometimes slow, and the important stuff risks being crowded out by the urgent.
This is good news for the church and the world. And perhaps as Christians our best Christmas present to the world and to the church.
In Christ, God with us and among us. So may we trust in and live out of that gift of comfort and joy at Christmas, and for the year to come.
James Percival, Team Rector of Limpsfield & Tatsfield