Thursday, December 22, 2011

Light and life to all He brings. Let your light shine!

"Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Gory to the new born King!”
Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings.  Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.
Isaiah 9:2-7
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.
As shepherds watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
                          “The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light;..."  
Tonight, I am an old angel, shouting to you good news of great joy that is for all people. 
For 50 years now,
       I have proclaimed the good news that God’s light shines in the darkness.
Yet, not all the people have seen light.  Many people, in many lands continue to walk in darkness.

We all are shepherds, exposed to the cold realities of life without shelter from its hungers.
Many of us are without cover from cold, cruel loses
           of love ones; we are without cover for our aging bodies;
so many of us find no light to warm us from the despair of break ups and breakdowns.
Yet, tonight we come seeking light,
We come hoping to see and hear the wonderful, dazzling message that God is born in the world tonight; that we are indeed not alone, that God is with us.  Jesus, our Immanuel is shining in our world even now! 

I.              God is with us, for all to see

God is with us, still.  Tonight, as we come with angels and shepherds to look into a toy manger…we hope to see the sparkling eyes of a child born to light up our hearts and minds and give us heart to endure this world’s darkness.

The angel said, “Be not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy…”
Oh, how we are ready for any news of great joy that is for all the people.

Each day we hear news of great distress…we are alarmed at the news flashed to us on our TVs, and on our ipads, and our iphones…
This year so many tyrants who darken their people’s world have fallen into darkness….
     Tunisia’s President, Ben Ali
          Egypt’s President, Mubarak
               Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi
                          North Korea’s Kim, Jong IL
Yet, the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, North Korea and so many more, in Syria, in Palestine, in Afghanistan….
Continue to walk in deep darkness.

Tyrants of Rome and Judea, over shadowed the manger holding Jesus. Pilot and Harold were already preparing a cross for him.
After this night, Jesus, Our Immanuel, will flee from their darkness to become a Stanger in a foreign land….

The light that is hoped for is a flickering flame in the winds of dark shadows.

Yet, it burns!  It shines bright and strong.  It defies the darkness. It leaps up to the heavens to shine in the deep darkness.
 And the darkness even to this day has not put it out!

II.            Hark! The herald angels sings …Light and life to all he brings
The angel says, “Be not afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that shall be for all the people.”
Listen, the angel sings,  “Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings.  Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.”
Light and life to all he brings…the light shines on all of us.  The light’s glow sparks us into a flame as well.  We too shine in the darkness.  We come to the manger to embrace Jesus, our Immanuel.  We are encouraged to give our hearts to the Christ child.  Be not afraid, See the light!  It shines in the darkness again, and again, and again!
Conclusion:  Good News of Great Joy that is for all the people
Thursday night I eat, “tangyuan” with my Taiwanese friends, to mark with sweetness of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  Sweetness and togetherness in the deep darkness of winter is really what we celebrate tonight here at the manger.  The Angel Gabriel calls the shepherds and us to come to the manger and see the light of God in the face of the Christ child who enlightens everyone.  Come taste the sweetness in this dark night of winter.  Taste, and see the light that casts away all darkness.  It is glad news of great joy that is for all people.

Joy, to the world!
The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King,
Let every heart prepare him room,
For now, heaven and nature sings together!

God becomes as a child, that we may become his godchildren.  God becomes one of us, so that we are enabled to become one like Him.
Love is born tonight.  Love chases out all darkness.

May each of you be reborn into Love’s light tonight!

May you shine brightly in the darkness all the days of your life.

Shine!  Shine in the darkness of this world.
     Jesus’ love outshines the darkness.  God’s love shines in you!
Let your love shine.  You are the light of the world.

Christmas Eve Combined English/Mandarin Service 8PM
Christmas English Service 9:30AM
January 1, English Service 9:30AM