A Christmas Greeting from the Dean

DECEMBER 24, 2014

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine as we celebrate Christmas!

Hear tonight Isaiah's prophecy:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” (9:2).

One of the most profound characteristics of faith we can model is to acknowledge the Darkness – to see clearly around us the battle being waged between good and evil, the ways in which we and others are drawn away from the abundant life God intends for all by greed, violence, and disrespect for the dignity of each and every one of us.

Those long-ago angels, as they said, “Fear not,” addressed people who also were no strangers to Darkness: poverty, oppression, injustice, war.

The Holy Family, uprooted and forced by edict to return to their tax district, found the Darkness of their journey illumed by the Star.

God does not inflict us with Darkness and most of the time we do our best to avoid or prevent it. But the Darkness is what makes the Light so bright. In the midst of our depressions, doubts and uncertainties and failures, the contrast of light can call us into a new beginning. At times when the message of God’s love has been drowned out and we veer off track, we see that Star burn again and have stirred up in us the desire to try, anew, to follow it.

Each Christmas we are challenged, as we ponder the message in our hearts, to dare to be open to and transformed by it. We are offered by God again the opportunity to hear that call to courageous action. Look around this glorious place as we celebrate The Gift and see the diversity of all the people of God who share in that gracious invitation.

Because Jesus is birthed again into the human story, we need no longer be afraid. We are reassured that we are part of God’s plan for salvation. We are emboldened to dare to respond to God’s call to be advocates for peace and justice. In daring to become human, God walks with us in and through the Darkness.

Christmas comes again each time we build up God’s people and God’s creation, reflecting how God so loves the world in this Gift of Jesus Christ. Fear is overcome, in us and through us, because God has entrusted us with the power to respect the dignity of all people and all life on this planet.

That is the Incarnation: the Word made flesh that dwells among us in Jesus of Nazareth.

May you hear the angels speaking to you this Christmas. And may you represent the Light which will overcome all darkness and fear. Merry Christmas!