December 24, 2022
"Seeing Light …. Being Light”
Rev. Scott Landis
The theme of light is integral to Christmas. We do everything we can to light up the growing darkness that surrounds us as daylight gets increasingly swallowed up by night in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year. Having just celebrated Solstice a few days ago – our longest night – we now move ever so slowly to the gradual lengthen of daylight – but the darkness of winter is slow to give up its grip. And we are often reluctant to appreciate darkness’ gifts. So, we look for light to brighten even our darkest night.
Perhaps you were able to catch a glimpse of the setting sun this evening as you arrived. Sunset is a magical moment as a hush falls upon one’s whole being as another day comes to a close. [pic(s) of sunsets – and one with full color after sun has set]
Or, if you are an early riser and dare to travel up to Haleakalā, you may have had the thrill of seeing that beautiful emergence of light as it pierces through the morning clouds [pic of Haleakalā sunrise]
One of my thrills is walking the dogs early in the morning. It’s beautiful to see the stars juxtaposed against the night sky. For a couple of days each month – if the sky is clear I watch the setting moon over the ocean near my home. Its glow is so alluring and when caught on film it’s difficult to distinguish it from the setting sun. [pick of moonset]
Here on Maui, we are frequently blessed with light broken up into color as peaceful rainbows are given – God’s reminder of the promise given to humankind. [pics of rainbows]
Sometimes light comes in the form of destructive beauty as Pele recently displayed once again reminding us of how vulnerable and insignificant, we really are. [pics of Mauna Loa eruption]
And at other times, light beckons us to prepare, to be still, to ponder whatever is in our hearts as Advent invites us to the birthday of Jesus. [Pics of advent candles – and pic of a single candle]
But tonight, the light of Christmas trees, the stars, our individual candles, and even a child’s glowstick remind us that light still shines in the darkness – and the darkness cannot over come it. [Pic of single candle]
The ancient Israelites, living in exile, received hope as Isaiah reminded them that a new light had come and pierced their world of hopelessness. A child was to be born whose name shall be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The shepherds saw a different form of light as angels appeared over them while they kept watch over their flock by night. And they were told, “Fear not, we bring you good tidings of great joy. For to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior who is the Christ the Lord.
And as you just heard, in a wonderful rendition of Bing Crosby’s “Do You Hear What I Hear,” the “Night wind asked the little lamb, do you see what I see? A star, a star dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite.
We sometimes forget about or take for granted the importance of light – that is until we are struck with a power outage as we were for several hours the other evening. It’s then that we re-discover that even the smallest light can illumine our darkness – and bring to us an abiding sense of comfort and peace. I believe, we can all agree that is our hope – our longing on this still and silent night.
And yet, I hasten to remind you, that the night for which we gather to remember and celebrate on THIS night was not as peaceful as our fantasy imagines. When Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem 2000 years ago, they did so under strict governmental orders. And when the baby was born, and Mary looked into his eyes, I believe she pondered much more than what she held in her arms.
We gather tonight on sacred ground. Land for which we have the kuleana to be faithful stewards for a season. Here we offer our prayers, sing carols, light candles, and celebrate the joy of Jesus birth. As we see and receive his light as a renewal of our faith. But as we gather in this pastoral setting, we must be mindful of the many who huddle in shelters, fearing for their lives, wondering when their light will come.
It is not enough to see the light and to celebrate light – as joyful recipients we must also BE light for others who live in darkness of fear and uncertainty on this holy night. So, I invite you tonight, to see and receive the light with utmost joy. Sing with full voice as memories flood your heart. And allow the light to burn not just on your candle – but through your life as you become a light of hope (mana’olana), of peace (maluhia), of joy (hau’oli), and of love (aloha), for all the world to see. Allow this Christmas to fill your life as you see light and be light in a world crying out in need.
Mele Kalikimaka – as your light shines in the darkness of human need as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.