I wrote this before seeing the Grand Chaplain's Advent message. You will see we have some over lap in our thoughts on Light.
St. Matthew Chap 2 vs 10-11:
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
St. Luke Chap 2 Vs 14-16:
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
In the Bleak Mid-Winter (Last 2 Verses)
Well here we are, it’s December again with Christmas and New Year on their way. Normally this month I would be doing the Lodge Crawfurdsburn Divine Service. Maybe you will be kind enough to look on this as my mini sermon for 2020.
It has been another quick year despite the lockdown and restriction that the pandemic has brought us. This is going to be a memorable year for us all. For the older amongst us and for our children and grand-children. I am sure they will be telling their children and grand-children the story of how life changed for us all in 2020.
Christmas will be different this year too with the limits on who we can see and what we can do. I hope you all manage to enjoy your Christmas despite those restrictions.
One thing that hasn’t changed about Christmas is in the messages brought to us from St. Matthew and St. Luke, and reflected in the carol, In The Bleak Mid-Winter. The message of the birth of the baby Jesus. Matthew and Luke tell the story that we love. The story of the baby in the manger. Neither St. Mark nor St. John start their gospels with the birth of the baby but at this time of year that doesn’t matter. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus that we remember.
Of course it is a time of year when our Brethren of other religions celebrate in their own ways too with the Hindu Diwali festival of lights and the Jewish Hanukkah, also a festival of lights. So let’s not forget the diversity of Freemasonry at this time of year.
Our Muslim brethren too revere Jesus as the “Prophet who did not die”. The story of Mary and the virgin birth is told in the Quran 19: 16 to 34. Muslims believe Jesus’ first miracle was to speak as a baby from the cradle when his mother was accused of committing the sin of becoming pregnant out of wedlock. The baby Jesus is reputed to have said that He was the servant of Allah and had been appointed by Allah to be a prophet.
Whatever book is your Volume of the Sacred Law it is a time to celebrate the Light. Christmas is of course the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. (St. John 8 vs 12) Jesus, foretold by the angels to the shepherds who travelled to see Him in the manager. They went on to tell everyone they met about the coming of the Son of God. Jesus, visited by the wise men who were guided by a star to Bethlehem, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
2020 may bring restriction on how we celebrate Christmas but it cannot change the way we celebrate the original meaning of Christmas. To visit the baby Jesus in our own way. To think about Him and the Christmas message, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
So what can I give Him? If I were a Shepherd I could bring a lamb. If I were a Wise Man I could bring gold, frankincense or myrrh. Yet what can I give Him? Give my heart. And isn’t that the most important thing you can bring him? Give your heart, give your love to the Light of the World. Carry that light with you wherever you go. Brighten the world, don’t bring darkness to those you know, those you love and even those strangers you meet going through the road that is your life. A kind word and just a smile to lighten everything. (There I go quoting the Beatles again and I didn’t realise until I’d written it. ) Peace and goodwill to all mankind, regardless of their religion, creed or colour.
Bring your gift to Jesus, give your heart. Bring love and kindness. Bring peace and goodwill. Ring out 2020 and ring in the new by bringing your light to 2021.
John Lennon would have been 80 this year. The 8th of December marks the 40th anniversary since he was shot down and murdered. I would like to finish off this message to you with his words which I think sum things up nicely.
“So this is Christmas, And what have we done? Another year over, A new one just begun.
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun. The near and the dear ones, The old and the young.
And so this is Christmas, For weak and for strong, For rich and the poor ones, The world is so wrong. And so happy Christmas, For black and for white, For yellow and red ones, Let's stop all the fight.
A very Merry Christmas, And a happy New Year. Let's hope it's a good one, Without any fear.”
A Christmas Benediction
Let us go from this place proclaiming that we have seen the glory of God.
Believing that there is a light that shines in the darkness, which the darkness will never overcome.
And may the love of the Creator, the joy of the Spirit, and the peace of the Christ-child be with you this Christmas and evermore.