Stars at sunrise
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dexxus/5578283926/">Paul Bica</a>

John 1:1-5

It all started with the idea,
The idea in God’s mind,
The idea which is God.

It started with God.
Everything exists because of it,
Nothing exists without it.
Life is possible because of it.
And in it lies enlightenment.

Such light pierces through the dark,
And darkness cannot put it out.

If the community of the 4th gospel knows anything about shepherds and angels and mangers wise men from the east, there’s no indication of it in anything they left behind.

Instead, for this early tradition the arrival of Jesus signals nothing less than the re-creation of the world. In their experience of Jesus, they had found enlightenment. (Remember, the Judaism out of which Christianity arose was an eastern religion. The Romans considered the Jewish god one of the oriental deities.)

And with enlightenment they saw the dawning of opportunity, a new way, to stand against the darkness of their time.

This Christmas Eve, whatever form your celebration takes, and from whatever tradition, and in whichever community, may you celebrate the dawning of opportunity to stand against the darkness of our time. And may enlightenment bring you renewed life, much joy, and (if we dare) the chance to participate in the remaking of the world.

Party at Sunrise

Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbh/5335360630/">Stephen Heron</a>

Isaiah 9:2-7

People who were groping in the dark
Have been enlightened.
Dawn has broken
For those who were living in the night.

You have made the nation great,
You have heightened the nation’s joy,
They rejoice in your presence,
Like the revelry when the harvest is in,
Like when people are looting with gusto what’s left behind .

For the weight of their burdens
And the chains that bound them
And the night-sticks of their oppressors
Have been broken as on V-J Day.
All the boots of the marching soldiers
And all the bloody battle fatigues
Shall be burned as bonfire kindling.

For a child has been born
A son given
Who will be the one in command.
We’ll call him:
An amazing adviser, a powerful God,
Forever our founder, a peaceful ruler.
His empire will extend throughout the world
And finally bring a lasting peace.
He will restore David’s dynasty and empire,
And will administer it fairly and for the good,
So that it will never fall again.

The passion of God will make it happen.

Picture, if you will, the scenes you’ve seen of looters running from smashed storefronts, their faces lit with glee.

Picture the faces of inmates as they emerge from their cells in the midst of a mass jailbreak.

Picture the faces of victorious college students after a football game tossing the dorm furniture onto a huge bonfire.

Picture the faces of soldiers returning home to embrace their children.

Picture the Bacchus revelry of mardi gras or carnaval.

Picture the celebrations in the streets of Egypt and Libya earlier this year when people were celebrating their liberation from years under oppressive dictators.

Picture a party in celebration of the birth of a child.

Put it all together into a wild and jubilant celebration that in it’s wildness is just a little scary, the way in the recesses of your mind you begin to think, “Can this much celebration really be good? Or safe?”

That’s what Isaiah is saying it will be like when God makes it happen.

What happen?

Redemption. Resurrection. Freedom. Peace.

Of course all of these things will be the end of the world as we know it. And of course, none of these things is safe.

Go ahead, Isaiah says. Bring it.