Christmas Message 2018
“Your light will come, Jerusalem;
the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.
You will see his glory within you;
the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.”
During this past season of Advent, those who pray Morning Prayer within the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours daily prayed this poetic antiphon as a response to a short reading. So many of the images of Advent and Christmas are connected with this idea of Christ’s light breaking into the world especially in the songs we sing: “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light …” or “Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace” or “Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in his wings.” (name those tunes). The antiphon cited above sees this light as not just a moment in time but as continuous: Christ’s glory will dwell within Jerusalem, will remain present now within this world.
The Church’s teaching takes this “indwelling” even further. On Wednesday of the first week in Advent, one of the readings for daily prayer is from a sermon by St. Bernard. He writes, “We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible…. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.” Imagine! The spirit and power of Christ dwells within us already! It is not just out there somewhere. It is personal in each and everyone of the baptized waiting to be awakened. But ….
My prayer has been captured this season with pondering that wonderful truth that those who believe and have been baptized have this gift within us. I’ve asked myself how is the radiant light of Christ directing my life? An immediate answer is for the light of Christ to confront the darkness of sin in my life. This requires the most immediate of all acknowledgements in faith: I need to be saved.
There is an incredible moment that occurs in our lives when we turn to that Light and say, “Be merciful to me Lord, a sinner.” It is a prayer of abandonment to Christ’s mercy but also to his embrace and loving guidance. In allowing his light to remove the darkness from my life and fill me with his spirit and power, I become more of him and less of myself, cooperating with that grace in living out a Christian life.
May our prayer this Christmas be that the light of Bethlehem be embraced by all believers so that we maybe bearers of that light to a world that continuously needs it.
God bless, Bishop Coyne