Sunday, 11 December 2011

The light shines in the darkness

A talk at the Hospice light up a life service.

It is when things are at their darkest that the light shines brightest.

When Jesus was born, that first Christmas, it was dark

He was born to a people under foreign occupation
The law of God, all that was right and true, had been trampled underfoot
Evil and fear ruled.
It seemed as if God, if he existed, had abandoned them.

But then, John writes, ‘The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world’. (John 1:9)

It is when things are at their darkest that the light shines brightest.

When Jesus was born, a star appeared

A star is phenomenal light, billions of miles away. The nearest star is 4.2 light years away, a mere 25000 billion miles away.

You can only see a star when you are prepared to go out into the darkness, when you are prepared to turn off all the lesser lights
·        If you are in London, you can hardly see the stars
·        If you are in one of the villages near Bury St Edmunds, you can often see the stars quite clearly
·        But it was when we were out in a remote part of Tanzania, and looked up, that we saw the most astonishing night sky.

Why? Because when things are at their darkest that the light shines the brightest.

Many of us here will have had our lives plunged into darkness:
The one who meant everything to us, who literally ‘lit up our day’ has been taken from us.
In the words of WH Auden,

“The stars are not wanted now, put out everyone; 

  Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun .."

But it is when things are at their darkest that the light shines brightest.

And I pray that you, in the darkness, have begun to see some stars:
The stars of family, of friends, maybe even of strangers who have gathered round us, and shown us compassion and given us support.
And today we celebrate another star: the star of the hospice, of the love and care of staff and volunteers

But there is a different star that is shining.
It seems very faint, but as we focus on it we realise that it is brighter than all the other stars put together. It is, in fact, the source of their light.
It seems billions of light years away, but as we focus on it we realise that it is both further away than we can imagine, and yet closer to us than we can possibly conceive.  

And I urge you to look at Jesus, the light of the world.

In a world of fear, he offers peace
In a world of emptiness, he can bring fullness
In a world of confusion, he gives us focus and identity
In a world of meaninglessness he can bring purpose
In a world that offers us no hope, no future, he can offer us an eternal destiny
In a world of death, he alone can offer us life.

It is when things are at their darkest that the light shines brightest.

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