Readings: Isaiah 9 v 1-6, Titus 2 v 11-14, St Luke 2 v 1-14
In the midst of darkness, we have seen a great light! Christ is born for us, alleluia! Christ is our light forever! God has shattered the darkness of night with the light of His Son, Jesus Christ!
The first reading at this midnight Mass is from the Prophet Isaiah. We can only identify with this reading if we have personally walked in darkness and know the challenges of darkness or if we know someone who has this experience. For the Prophet Isaiah, it was the whole people of Israel or at least the remnant of those who had been taken into captivity.
The challenge for us tonight is to long for the light, to long for freedom from all that oppresses us and all that keeps us from God in any way. We are invited to long with our whole being for God’s presence in every aspect of our lives.
The second reading comes from the Letter to Titus. This passage tells us clearly that God has appeared so that we can know “Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.” Again, we must want to be free from lawlessness and we must want to be cleanses so that we are eager to do what is good.
Only in the Gospel from Saint Luke do we come to see clearly how all of this will come about: through the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Yes, even here, the clarity is only possible if we open our eyes in faith. We must see through the darkness to the light that God is giving us.
We recognize on this Holy Night that even after centuries of knowing Jesus Christ, our world still wanders in darkness. Even after proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, our hearts are not yet converted completely to Him and our world even less so. We humans are a broken people and each of us is broken.
Tonight is Christmas! The birth of the Saviour. We can rejoice, even though we are broken because the Saviour is born. We can rejoice even if we do not always respond so well to our Saviour because we recognize that the Saviour has come to us and will make us free. All we need do is rejoice in the Saviour and trust in Him as much as we can. God wants us free. God sends the Saviour to give us freedom. This is a freedom from darkness so that we can live in the light. This is a freedom from our sinfulness so that we can live in His grace. This is a freedom that is won for us by Jesus Christ.
So no matter how terrible our lives may seem, no matter how enmeshed we may find ourselves in sin, no matter what bad circumstances we may find ourselves in—let us rejoice because the door to heaven is open, the door to living just and pious lives even in this world is open: God’s love has come to earth and we can rejoice now and forever.
Let us walk in the light of our Saviour.
Father Ed Bakker,
Priest and Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne,
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia