Sermons 2006
"Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Christmas 1 2006 8AM John 1:1-18

Long long ago far far away, in a place now remote both in time and memory, Bin Duong Province in South Viet Nam, on a dark monsoon night deep in the jungle my rifle company was the lead company in the advance of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry, of the First Infantry Division to reinforce the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, commanded by then Lt. Col. Alexander M. Haig. His battalion had been attacked by two full regiments of combined North Vietnamese Army regulars and main force Viet Cong.

For those who have never been in the night jungle in the monsoon darkness, it is impossible to imagine anything any darker, a darkness from which all light is removed. As we stumbled forward in our blindness, broken only by the recurring awesome glowing flashes from strikes by flights of B-52 heavy bombers. Back in total darkness the earth shook beneath our feet as we pressed forward. We didn’t know when the darkness would end and we didn’t know what we find ahead of us.

Light came slowly, dimly, to touch the jungle beneath the heavy monsoon clouds. Then as suddenly as it had come, the heavy monsoon rain stopped. We found ourselves in one of those open areas that are often in the middle of the jungle, and a fiercely bright beam of sunlight pierced the departing monsoon gloom. It seemed bright enough to be tangible, as if we could reach out and touch it, hold its white gold light in our hands like rainwater. Our drenched spirits rose as we spread out in the light, our boots and clothes drying in the heat.

Whenever I read the opening of the Fourth Gospel I am reminded of that bright moment of shining light on what was otherwise a very long, dark, and dangerous day. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”

When we look at the sky on a clear night, we can see the stars twinkling and the moon shining. But the sky is mostly the empty, inky blackness of deep space. And the tiny stars seem weak and vulnerable. Consider that, when the inner life of one of those stars is spent, the force of its gravity crushes it into a pinpoint of darkness so dense that it quenches even light as it becomes what the astrophysicists call a "Black Hole."

This power of darkness and death howls, prowls, creeps, and roars through our earthly home. Out of the atmosphere in the South Atlantic and Caribbean the power of death and darkness disrupts the calm bright sparkling surface of the sea and looses huge vortices of hurricane clouds and sets them loose with their screaming winds to unleash destruction and death upon the land. A huge tanker breaks up in Prince William Sound. Beaches turn black with gooey oil, and sea life is killed, perhaps for years. Blights and diseases attack and destroy plants and animals, and doctors work night and day to help us defend ourselves against the death-dealers which creep into our organs and bloodstreams.

We can see and feel the power of darkness and death as it affects our own thinking and behaving and the thoughts and actions of others. We can feel it in the dark hatred which fuels "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans and ignites terrorist bombs in busy London subways and Baghdad streets. We see it in drive-by shootings in our own cities and in the burning falling twin towers of New York and the flames of the Pentagon on 911.

When we consider the power of darkness and death in the universe and in the world, we are in the same place where the writers of Scripture stood. But they saw something else. They saw the darkness being pierced by a shaft of light; and they saw physical, mental, emotional and spiritual death being overcome by life. They saw God as the giver and sustainer of this light and life. (1)

Both Genesis and the Fourth Gospel begin alike: “In the beginning, God; In the beginning the Word.
“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

In our passage from John for today the foundation for the transformation of the entire world is set forth. The themes are cosmic in scale. Light masters darkness, glory enters into ignorance and stubbornness, God’s will surpasses human will, while preserving human free will. The holy and divine Logos, the Word, became flesh, human flesh, subject in a sinful world to indignity, suffering, and death, human flesh became the indwelling of God ‘s own self. And everything in the world is changed. (2)

What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it


1. The Rev, Harold McKeithen, “For all who walk in darkness, for 31 Dec.
2. Adapted from “Reversal of Fortune”, The Living Church, 31 Dec 2006, p. 4.

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579