This little light of mine…

  

This is a short sermon I preached on 27 December 2015, based around Isaiah 9:2 and John 1:1-14.

In the last few days we have seen the retelling of a story of darkness versus light. One where the darkness seems relentless and overwhelming, but one person emerges who brings light and peace and harmony to everything. Billions around the world have celebrated this story and come together to listen to its retelling once more.

I am, of course, talking about Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. I saw it on Thursday evening and absolutely loved it. I promise, though, that I will not give away any spoilers during the course of this talk; I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen it already.

Jesting aside, the popularity of the Star Wars movies, stories of the fight between good and evil as symbolised by the light and dark sides of the Force, tell us a lot about our world in general. We recognise good and evil, light and darkness, because we see it so readily in what happens all over the planet. We know that, in amongst the good and the bad, there are many shades of grey, but we also know that there is evil so dark, so oppressive and pervasive, that it threatens to totally envelop everything in its path.

We hear stories of the recent past of the Nazis in Germany, Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, fascist dictators in Spain and Chile or communist ones in China and North Korea, and we see them as the bogeyman who haunted our nightmares as children. A beast who was so scary that the thought of him would get into our heads and keep us awake at nights. Only, this evil is real, this beast really does kill millions, control people’s actions, thoughts and lives. It is selfish for power, control, land, money, even worship. And, like the head of the mythical hydra, when you cut off its head, defeat one branch of its evil, another grows in its place. We may have defeated the Nazis, seen the end of Pol Pot, seen relaxation of the Chinese regime and the marginalisation of North Korea; but we now face ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other Islamist groups determined to force an evil ideology onto the whole world.

It just seems hopeless. A never ending war against a never ending evil.

But then, light. It starts with one child. One small baby born to two ordinary people in an ordinary town. But not an ordinary child.

 We hear the nativity story every year, based largely around the accounts in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels. John’s Gospel, however, also has the Nativity story, but not in the same terms that you’ll find on the front of your Christmas cards.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
‭‭‬‬ 

The Word. The Word through whom God made everything. The Word who is life. The Word who is the light of mankind. That Word became flesh.

This child whose birth we celebrate every December is the Word of God Himself, as a human being. We celebrate, not because of a baby, or a new king of Israel, or because we get a couple of extra days off of work. We celebrate because we know that, as Isaiah said, we walk in darkness, but we have seen a great light.

It’s a light which starts with that one child, but spreads quickly. It is ‘The true light that gives light to everyone’. Each ordinary person who believes in that light, receives that light and can share that light with others.

And it spreads, far and wide, through every person, family, home, village, town, city and nation.

And the darkness? There are many translations of the Bible and they put it differently, but they all mean the same thing,

“The darkness has never put it out.” 


“The darkness did not understand it.”


“The darkness can never extinguish it.” 


“The darkness has not overcome it.” 

The darkness, this evil which terrifies and terrorises, which seems to be unstoppable, has not, can not and will never understand, overcome, extinguish or put out the light of the World in Jesus Christ.

There will always be evil. There will always be dark forces which come, destroy, kill and control. They will be defeated, as they always are, and new evils will always spring up to replace them. Their power is in the fear they hold over us.

But the light of Christ shines through that fear, that darkness, and brings us hope. That one child, born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago brings us the light to shine through the darkness, taking our fears, bringing us hope and destroying the power which evil holds. 

So, as we move on from this Christmas, let us take that light, share it and encourage others to do the same, knowing that this light is so great, so powerful, that no human or spiritual evil will ever overcome it.

Because that, amongst the turkey, presents, crackers, great sci-fi movies, meaningless platitudes of politicians, carols, tinsel and trees, is the true meaning of Christmas. The light of the world in Jesus Christ will overcome all evil through all of us.

Amen.

‭‭‬‬


Why Last Christmas shows that George Michael is emotionally unstable

  
So this is Christmas…

And, being so, the Christmas songs are everywhere. When else will you find the Pogues being played in Boots or the worst song in the world being put on the radio because it has the word Christmas in the title (I’m looking at you, Paul McCartney. Wonderful Christmastime is an abomination!)?

One song which is omnipresent at this time of year is Last Christmas by Wham! George Michael and some bloke he dragged out of the pub wrote a song which demonstrates the idea of a love betrayed at the festive season.

Or, it shows a disturbed and emotionally stunted mind not learning from its past mistakes. I listened to the lyrics today and it struck me just how much these lyrics show worrying behaviours on behalf of the singer.

Last Christmas

I gave you my heart

How sweet! You loved this person enough to declare your love at Christmas!

But the very next day you gave it away.

I’m sorry? They gave your heart away? How does that work? Have they decreed that you shall love someone else? They have clearly rejected you, but would that not simply involve the heart being returned? Unless, of course, they didn’t have a receipt and were simply regifting it, in which case it is fairly sensible, if horrendously callous.

This year

To save me from tears

I’ll give it to someone special.

Is that a good idea? I mean, you hardly have a great track record in these matters. I assume you also believed the recipient of your heart from last year to be special, otherwise you wouldn’t have given it to them. Can you really be sure this year’s squeeze is truly special, bearing in mind your clear lack of good judgement of character? 

And, how did you get your heart back after last year’s regifting saga? Was it so unlovable that even the second hand recipient wanted rid of it? Did you miraculously grow a new one? We need answers!

Once bitten and twice shy

I keep my distance

But you still catch my eye.

You keep your distance, but only up to a point. You are clearly hugely bitter over last Christmas to accost them. And how come you are in the same place as them this Christmas? That’s horrendously bad planning on your part or crass insensitivity on the part of your friends. Either way, it’s not clever.

Tell me, baby,

Do you recognize me?

Well,

It’s been a year,

It doesn’t surprise me

It’s been a year! Just twelve months! If I bumped into a girl I went out with twenty years ago I’d recognise her. I would be shocked beyond belief if she’d forgotten my face after just a year. Unless this person has one of those conditions where they can’t remember faces, I guess.

I wrapped it up and sent it

With a note saying, “I love you,”

I meant it

Wait! You wrapped it up? Now, I don’t really think you sent your heart, for obvious reasons. Here, though, you show that you have sent an actual physical gift. The suggestion is that you may have sent an actual heart. That’s sick, mate! Sick! I’d have given it away as well, but I wouldn’t have waited until Boxing Day to throw it.

Now I know what a fool I’ve been.

But if you kissed me now

I know you’d fool me again.

Firstly, you’re not learning. This person destroyed you emotionally just a year ago, yet you would take them back with just a kiss! Secondly, you are willing to tell them. 

It’s your funeral.

A crowded room,

Friends with tired eyes.

I’m hiding from you

Sensible. Hide, run, fly away. Quickly!

And your soul of ice.

My god I thought you were someone to rely on.

Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on.

Why would someone with a soul of ice need a shoulder to cry on? You’re all confused and need to get away and collect your thoughts.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart.

A man under cover but you tore me apart, ooh-hoo.

Eh? Now you’re just rambling! How much have you had to drink?

Now I’ve found a real love, you’ll never fool me again.

WHAT?! You have found someone else? Just a few lines back you were telling this person that one kiss and your theirs again, but you’ve already moved on to somebody else. Somebody who you are prepared to drop, at Christmas, for this heartless git who dumped you last year. Take a good hard look at yourself, George, and ask yourself who the true villain of this piece is!

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart (I gave you my heart)

A man under cover but you tore him apart

Maybe next year I’ll give it to someone

I’ll give it to someone special.

Again! ‘Next year’ you’ll give it to someone special? What about the poor sap you’ve conned into spending this one with you? Are they not special? Is this ‘real love’ you have found not worthy of your heart? Do you even know what love is, or are you simply an emotionally impotent, selfish idiot, bitterly ranting about somebody who, a year ago, recognised you for the psychotic mess you are and got out while they still could?

Anyway, I quite like the song.

Merry Christmas!