The Nativity of Our Lord | The Rev. Scott Lee

Isaiah 9:2-7 | Titus 2:11-14 | Luke 2:1-14(15-20) | Psalm 96


Candles filling this chapel with light.

To remind us that the light of Christ has come into the world

Christmas trees sparking brightly.

A big, beautiful one on University Avenue, and one in your home too, I hope.

Everywhere the glow of Christmas.

It’s all about light, you know.


“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” says Isaiah, “those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them has light shined.”


Christmas fits so well in the winter time. Here is the darkest part of the year, we sing and celebrate the coming of light into the world; and indeed from this point forward, until mid summer, the days will grow longer and longer. Light has once again won its annual struggle with darkness.

And it’s all about light, you know.


I wonder what kind of light there was in that stable. Were there lanterns? Were there lamps made of clay casting the smudgy glow of burning oil? It must have been dark even so. No street lights. No neon signs flashing “NO VACANCY.” Just the stable and the animals and the couple who, even though they were returning to the man’s ancestral home, had no place to rest but a barn. And no cradle to lay the baby in but a feeding trough.


It doesn’t seem right somehow, does it, that the King of Glory, the Lord of Light, should be lying with the lice and the fleas? The King of Glory, the Lord of Light, lying amid the smell and earthy steam of a stable.


Things are out of joint – there is a crack in how things ought to be. A woman giving birth in a stable. A baby wrapped in such cloth as can be found and laid in a feeding trough. It isn’t fitting. It isn’t fair. Despite our sentimentalized, sanitized, Christmas card version of that stable, it doesn’t make any sense. How can the Son of God be found in such a place?

As if there is a crack in how things ought to be.


The Jewish novelist, songwriter, mystic and prophet Leonard Cohen penned these lines:

“Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.”

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.


That’s how Jesus came to be born in a stable. Not in a palace. Not amid luxury and plenty, but into a situation of isolation and deprivation. That is where Jesus is born tonight.

And, O my God, is that good news.


I need to know that, we need to know, that when we are lonely, and feeling ourselves cut-off and alone. When the career is in jeopardy. When the relationship is falling apart. When the diagnosis is not good. When the dice aren’t rolling our way. When the future doesn’t seem all that inviting. When our regard for ourselves is not very high. We need to know that that is where God is found. We need to know that in the depth of personal darkness, the light is shining. That we don’t have to get it right. That we don’t have to get it at all. That we do not have to be a perfect person.


Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.


The darkest night of winter is no darker than your fears and mine. The darkness of a Galilean stable is no darker than your regrets and failings and mine. And tonight God promises that that is where God is always to be found.


Mary, engaged to Joseph, took her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in manger, because there was no place from them in the inn.

Took him and wrapped him and laid him there.


And on a dark, dark day – the darkest day ever, some would say – a day thirty years later, or so, a good and righteous man, another man named Joseph . . went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a cold, dark tomb.

Took him and wrapped him and laid him there.


And it wasn’t fair. And the world seemed wrong and out of joint. It was as if there were a crack in the universe.

Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.


And it’s all about light you know. Tonight and every night. No matter how dark. No matter how deadly. It’s always on only all about the light.

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