Rev’d Janet’s Christmas Message 2018

I will give you the treasure of darkness,

and riches hidden in secret places.”  Isaiah 45.3


By late afternoon, the early December sky begins to turn gray, like a soft veil, it falls across Mary and Joseph’s path and the little treasure in Mary’s arms.  As night descends, they hasten to find shelter.

If you were to travel several years ago, to the north end of the city of London on some Friday afternoon, you might see my daughter Elizabeth and I bundled up against the cold climbing snow banks towards the warm glow of our neighbour’s homes.  Elizabeth had begun her first job delivering weekly flyers.  I enjoyed the fresh air and time with my daughter, well, most of the time!  As the shadows deepened we grew tired.  The warmth and inner lights of houses and families gathered for dinner, hastened us to see the last flyer delivered and head home.

Later that day, lying in bed just before sleep, God brought me treasures in the dark.  I revisited window scenes I had briefly glimpsed as we left flyers at front doors.  With a new pair of eyes, I saw – a family clearly in grief, gathered in prayer, a solitary candle placed in their window, a Christmas tree aglow, a solitary woman dancing, an elderly man sitting by a dim light absorbed in a book.  My heart was full to the brim to hold such treasures.

As our December days shorten, you hasten to use well what light remains. There is Christmas shopping to do, errands to run, or a driveway of snow to shovel. Parents instinctively gather their children home. Nature rests and regenerates.

Only months ago, we enjoyed long summer days.  Now God lengthens the days of darkness and makes this our way to Christmas – a way strewn with “treasures” if we have, as Sarah Slean song celebrates, “a new pair of eyes”  – they “come to her in the dark where everything luminous starts.” She sings, “a mystery man came to my door, he said, ‘all that you wanted is yours, throw away your jars of tears, all of the useless fears, you won’t need them anymore’.”

Jesus is that mystery man, who helps us to see treasures on our Advent road.  Mary and Joseph set out on that bumpy road to Bethlehem in the last months of her pregnancy leaving comfort and family.  The magi travelled by night guided by a star and a vision built upon a prophecy, of a king of kings to come among us on earth.  They all moved through the dark without the security of a known way, without the expectation of resting by the family hearth any time soon, yet they were guided not only by what their eyes saw but what their hearts held. Buried in a little cave, a place of refuge for animals, a feeding trough, here they found treasure.  What was hidden in the dark, in Mary’s womb, in time, was radiantly visible – pure love and they fell on their knees and adored him. This we celebrate.  This is for all people.

Textile artist Lorraine Roy created a powerful artwork in 2013 “She Provides” of a winter white tree whose bejeweled roots go deep…In total darkness, they seek out hidden metallic minerals like magnesium. Lorraine explains, “The minerals I chose to portray are the main macro and micronutrients that sustain the tree.  They are gifts from the earth.  Minerals, water, symbiotic organisms… all reside in the soil.  Trees draw on the richness beneath in order to thrive and reach up into the atmosphere.

Yes, hasten home, but don’t pass by what on your way there, is for you.  Whatever your circumstances, whatever your state of health and emotion, God has treasures for you to unearth.  You will find things that shimmer and illumine your life.   Pause and receive.

God came to us incarnate in the Son of God that we might know how amazing it is to be human and loved by God.   We carry that love within us and in our best moments, we let that love guide us.  To radiate that love and feel the warm radiance of others love, is to live well.  God delights in who we are and wants to nourish and bejewel us as roots in the soil.  Whether we walk in darkness or light, whether our life is messy or a paradise of blessings, whether we feel adequate or not, faithful or faithless, frustrated by our limitations or confident in our opportunities, God loves us and comes to us and fills the dark with treasures.  

The gifts you bring to Cozy Socks and Christmas Care and our own Sunday Outreach Meal programs, the love you offer one another, the higher ground you take when hurt, the time you spend with family and those God leads you to care for, the time alone in prayer and the time in St. John’s worship and breaking of bread, even the fruitless paths not of your choosing you suffer to walk, are full of promise and hope because God, not circumstances, is rooting you in Love.  If we rush to Christmas and rush to wrap up Christmas with the last helping of Christmas day turkey or Christmas Eve Chili, we miss what is hidden in the season, we miss seeing with fresh eyes what the angels proclaim and prophets foretold:  The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light, those who live in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined, for a child has been born to us; who is Christ the Lord.  A very blessed Christmas to you, and to all you love and remember.