Der Vasken’s Sermon on December 26, 2021

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

For the last two days, most all of us celebrated the Season of Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve here in our church with a very beautiful candlelight service of songs, Bible readings, poems and prayers. Yesterday, we continued the celebration with our families and we all hope and pray that those feelings stay with us all for a long time and into the New Year.

When I graduated from the seminary, I never thought that someday I would be standing in church on the day after Christmas and starting a story that comes out of World War II. This story sets the stage for the week between our celebration of Christmas and the New Year in front of us so I want to share it today.

This story comes from the life of a university professor living in Europe during the war. One day the professor was approached by several of his students who asked him to explain the “meaning of life.” So the professor removed a tiny mirror from his wallet about the size of a quarter. He told the story of how one day he was walking down the road and saw the wreckage of a motorcycle. “In that wreckage,” he said, “I saw a broken mirror and I kept the biggest piece I could find for a reason. During the war, Europe was a very dark place and I began reflecting the light of the sun into the darkest places I could find. Whenever I felt the need, I would pull out that little mirror and I would reflect the sun into places where the light never reached. That simple act became a symbol of what I could do with my life,” he said. “I’m not the light,” he said, “but I can reflect the light into the darkest of places.”

It’s a great little story to remember why we celebrate Christmas and how His birth touches each of our lives. “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others so that they may give glory to our Father in Heaven.”

Cathy read those words to us a few moments ago. They are meaningful and important words for all of us. In the beginning of His ministry, Jesus traveled to a region of the Holy Land called Galilee. There He began teaching about forgiveness, about the Kingdom of Heaven and about the heart of a Christian. He taught through stories and He taught regardless of age or gender. He went throughout Galilee teaching to groups large and small and healing all who approached Him so His fame naturally spread throughout the land and families brought to Him their sick and their emotionally-challenged loved ones. He cured them all and because He could cure the illnesses of the people, they followed Him.

Because they followed Him, He preached His message to everyone He encountered. The message He preached was that God is standing with us and that He cares for us. He can heal us, not just of physical illness, but of spiritual illness as well and that there is no pain or problem or illness, no “storm” in life too great or too small for Him to handle. He wanted them to realize this, but more so, He wanted them to follow Him for His message than for His ability to heal their aches and pains.

He knew that illnesses and disease would be normal experiences in the lives of people, but He also knew that His message would help them through it and offer them hope and strength and peace of heart when they needed it most. That is the message He wanted them to hear and personalize.

So He said to His followers: “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others so that they may give glory to the Father in Heaven.” He offers them this one simple illustration. “Imagine a city built on a hill,” He says. “Can you hide a city that is sitting on top of a hill?” He asks. “Because at night, its light can be seen for miles. That’s what I want My followers to be like,” He told them.

If we accept His message, we will glow like the lights of that city. If we accept His message, we will be the reflection of Christ’s Light in this world. Followers of Christ, He says, don’t hide their light. They let it shine into their corner of the world.

But we all know that it is very easy to hide our light in this world. We all know of people who choose to hide their light instead by being quiet when they should speak up; by going along with the crowd; by ignoring the needs of others; and by helping to tear people down instead of building them up. Followers of Jesus Christ will be known by the Light they carry within them and reflect into the world. It is the Light of the Holy Spirit.

So think about our life as it is today.
• Are you allowing the Light within you to shine for others to see?
• If not, what adjustments do you need to make?

“You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others so that they, too, may give glory to our Father in Heaven,” says Jesus Christ.
Be the reflection of that Light. Be that City on the Hill and our world will be a better place.

Amen.

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