Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas Mass at Night St Austin’s Church Dec 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!    In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we hear these ancient and well known words: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” 
          “The people who walked in darkness…”  Who are these people?  What have they experienced?  Well, think of a time that you walked in darkness.  Maybe you were walking to your car in a dicey part of town late one night, all alone, an area you didn’t know, and it was dark.  How did you feel?   Or maybe you were out in the country, when it was quickly getting dark, getting dark far faster than you realized and you still had a way to hike your way back to camp.   We don’t have a lot of experiences walking in the dark these days with electric lights everywhere.  But we know that walking in the dark can be threatening, spooky, full of concern, jumping at every movement and sound in the dark.  
          What is it like to dwell in the land of gloom?  Anyone who has ever been depressed knows that one.  The land of gloom.  Maybe you have looked at your life, your relationships, your job, and instead of rejoicing you feel a sense of defeat, of disappointment, of frustration, of gloom.  Maybe you look around you at all the terrorism, the senseless hate, the never ending violence, the lies, the venality, the sheer stupidity and you feel like you dwell in the land of gloom.  Maybe you look at all the presidential candidates, and realize you will be subjected to nearly of full year more of shouting and accusations and counter-charges, and you dwell in the land of gloom. 
          Guess what folks?  The people who walked in darkness and those who dwelt in the land of gloom are right here with us this evening.  We are those people!
          But, and this is the important point so listen up, we are also those who “have seen a great light” and those upon whom “a light has shown.”  Isaiah, writing centuries and even millennia ago, is writing about us!
          Isaiah sings: “You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,

as people make merry when dividing spoils.”
          Why are we so happy?  Isaiah tells us.  “For a child is born to us, a son is given us;”    Who can repress a smile when they see a new baby?  Who cannot rejoice when they see a little child?  Regardless of the circumstances our hearts leap up at the sight of any new baby, to see all that freshness, that newness of life, all that potential, all that promise, all that wonderful expectation!
          And for this particular child we have all that and much, much more!   “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.”
          “For a child is born to us”  All of us right here.  “A son is given to us”.  And no ordinary child, but the Prince of Peace, our Savior.  Given to us to save us from all our worst inclinations and habits and desires.  To save us to live fully and completely in harmony and love with God.  To fulfill our destiny, to achieve the whole reason we were created and why we exist, to be perfectly in love with God, with all others, and with ourselves. 
          That is a really good reason to celebrate and to rejoice. 
 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.”

Merry Christmas!!!

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