December 22, 2019
Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, today will be 4 seconds longer! It seems only appropriate that as we move from Advent to Christmas we also move, as the ancients did, from hoping that the light will return to the comfort of knowing that it has returned.
We light the fourth candle today in the fullness of the season.
Many years ago, I was teaching a Sunday School Class of 7-9 year olds, mostly girls and almost all named Sarah! It was that time. We spent our classes talking about love, God, sharing and caring; they were fun and they kept me on my toes.
One Sunday morning as we gathered in our sunny classroom space we started talking about sharing. I asked them if they were good at sharing? They all nodded, some a bit more vigorously than others- it was after all Sunday School class- of course they shared.
So I probed a bit. What are some of the things or times you have shared? One girl reported she had shared a cookie with her brother, another had shared her toys and room when a friend came over to play.
So I asked again, is it ever hard to share? They thought about it and one by one they decided it was hard sometimes.
The girl who shared her cookie admitted that she would have liked to have kept it all to herself, the one who shared her room and toys agreed.
I then asked them, can you think of anything that you can share and still keep it all?
You could almost hear the gears turning in their heads. Well, no that was not possible.
If you share something you have to give some of it away. There were no other options. Sharing was good, but it also meant losing something.
I gathered them up and we walked down the hall to the mysterious storage closet- located in the center of the parish hall wing, it had an imposing door that creaked when opened; I unlocked the door;
the room had no windows and certainly never had children wandering about. We walked in and everyone sat in a circle. This was an adventure of great magnitude.
As we closed the door, the room became totally dark. In the hushed silence of anticipation- I lit a candle. I asked them what would happen if I gave Sarah a candle and then shared my flame with her?
I did that and not only did I still have my flame, but there was actually more light. What would happen when Sarah gave Sarah a candle and shared her flame? We had even more light.
We went all the way around the circle with each child finally holding a flaming candle. The dark, windowless room was filled with the light of the flames and the bright faces of children in awe.
We had done it- we had shared what we had and ended up with more not less. We had overcome the darkness.
We then talked about love, God’s love. When we share God’s love we don’t give it away we help it to grow.
When we share friendship with many we have more friends.
There are things we can give away and actually end up with more!
As I prepared to speak this morning- I knew this was the story I wanted to share, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the mystery of fire, light and love.
We are all Loved; given Love by the grace of God because we are God’s children and made in God’s image and likeness.
We don’t earn it, buy it or inherit it because of our name or lineage. It is a Gift.
So if we all- every single one of us- has the love of God in our lives-what allows some of us to see it and others not to?
I believe that is the role of Faith. It is by Faith that we see the light and love of God in our lives and in others.
When I shared the flame with my wonderful gaggle of Sarah’s and others, they held the candle and they actually had all the ability to have light, I just needed to help them find their light.
So, of course light and love grow when shared- because we are not giving up something that is ours, but through faith and living by example we are helping others find the light/the love of God that already exists in their own lives.
The light and love are always there, just not seen.
In this morning’s gospel reading- we hear that the Lord spoke through the prophet….and they shall name him Emmanuel – “God is with us”…and by our faith we know He is.
Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, as we move into Christmas let us go forth into the world leading by the example of our faith to show the light of God’s love in our lives and help others see the love/light of God in their lives- that way we will increase the light and love in this very dark troubled world.