Today Tom and I worshiped at Linworth United Methodist Church for the fifth Sunday in a row. It was nice to be able to be at one church for the whole of Advent and the Sunday after Christmas. There weren’t many people at the service, but the Sunday after Christmas is typically one of the lowest Sundays for church attendance of the year. I’m not sure why. We just celebrated the birth of Jesus – that should make us even more eager to worship.
The sermon today was delivered by the young Associate Pastor, Andrea Cheeseman. She does a nice job preaching and will get even better with experience in the pulpit. She talked about how hard it can be to find hope in the world today.
Rev. Cheeseman talked about staying up all night watching CNN right after the Ferguson, Missouri announcement that they would not indict the police officer for the shooting. As she watched the rioting and vitriol, she felt hope was very far away. But in one small part of Ferguson, the television cameras came upon a group of pastors who were calmly and quietly standing between the protesters and the police officers. While the rest of the city crashed and burned, in this small neighborhood the protesters and the police officers did not clash because the pastors were standing between them.
This is what God does for us with the gift of Christmas. Not only does he send the embodiment of hope into the world in the infant Jesus, he sends his son, the Christ, as someone who can stand between heaven and earth. In bridging that distance, in giving us a glimpse of heaven, Jesus Christ gives us hope and brings his light into the the darkness that too often surrounds us.
We are called to do the same thing. We are standing between. As Christians, we are supposed to embody the light of Christ and shine it into the darkness and hopelessness of the world. Even if we are just little lights – after all, we can be pretty dim sometimes – we can drive the darkness away for someone. As the pastors stood between the protesters and the police officers, they brought light, peace, and hope into that dark night. As Jesus came into a dangerous world on a still, silent night, he brought light into a dark night. As we stand between earth and heaven, as we witness to our faith and invest our time in the things that truly matter, we bring the light of Christ which illumines the darkness and will never be extinguished.
At Christmas we are reminded that we are standing between earth and heaven. We can stand in the gap as a witness to what Jesus has done in our lives and what he can do for others. We can bring light into darkness when we allow ourselves to shine with Christ.