“Joy to the world the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.”
Two thousand years ago a young couple were preparing for a trip to Bethlehem. Joseph got the donkey and Mary packed the swaddling clothes for their expected baby.
When they arrived in Bethlehem there was no room in the Inn and they were given a stable surrounded by farm animals in which to settle and sleep.
We can’t imagine how tired they were, how foreign their space, how alone they felt, never mind how worried and anxious they were as the birth became imminent.
It was into that darkness both in that stable and in the suffering of the people in that time in history that a great light shone. In St. Stephen we have been preparing.
Each Sunday we’ve sung an ancient hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in longing and anticipation for the coming of our lord and saviour.
During the hymn we’ve lit an Advent candle noting how each little candle light makes a difference, albeit small, within the surrounding darkness.
We are reminded of our brokenness and the darkness in the world.
Throughout the year we’ve watch as people have fled war torn countries travelling by foot, boat, whatever it takes to get to safety.
Many journey with only the clothes on their backs and their children in their wombs and arms. Some are born on the way, all suffer, and many die.
People’s hearts have hardened and borders closed leaving them desperate as they try to survive in refugee camps.
In our own country we’ve experienced discrimination and injustice and we cry with those who have gone missing on the highways of tears, and those who lost their lives in the mass shootings.
We also cry for those who’ve lost their lives as a result of addiction.
Throughout Advent we are reminded of the darkness around but also that is within. We have also become more aware of how God is present and continues to be present in our lives.
As we lit the Advent candles each Sunday light has become increasingly brighter.
On Christmas the Christ Candle will be lit in the midst of those candles and hope will shine so brightly it will overcome all darkness. Mary and Joseph were exhausted and alone in the stable with only the animals. God came to them.
Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.” The light of Christ shone so brightly all darkness was overcome.
The angels sang in glorious exultation as the shepherds gazed in amazement upon the Christ child. Hope was born on earth that night.
St. Stephen’s Anglican Church welcomes everyone as we open our hearts in exultation and joy in celebrating the birth of Christ. Our Christmas service will be held on Christmas Eve beginning with carols at 7:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m. we will begin our worship service by lighting the Christ candle, listening to the story of Jesus’ birth, and celebrating Christ in midst.
We will receive the body and blood of Christ and be strengthened to go forth in Christ in the knowledge that Christ will come again — the time when there will be a new heaven and new earth and all darkness be overcome.
Come, you are invited. Come and join the warmth and light of our Christian community as we celebrate, “Joy to the world the Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King.”
Glenda Drew is the interim priest at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Summerland.
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