| [Brian's note: Each year at this time I invite the clergy of Dedham to publish their Christmas sermons, or another Christmas message, in this space. Rev. Cheryl Kerr of the Allin Congregational Church was kind enough to share the letter she has written to her congregation below.]
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
"Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?" - I Corinthians 15:51-52, 54d-55
It seems this year, as we prepare in hope and faith for the coming of our Lord and Savior, we have been put to the test. Typically we are talking about faith in terms of insuring that the pies are made, the ham defrosted, gifts bought, and house decorated. And typically we have to remind ourselves to remember that Christ is in it all. But this year is different. This year our faith is tested by actual life, death, and forgiveness within the worst possible situation. This year our world has tossed the most unreal of all reality checks at us as if to say, "Where is your savior now? Where is your hope for life with death all around?"
|And so, many of us have responded to our own heart ache and questions of why and how with the words: Never Forget. In its simplicity this phrase saturates our Christmas story with meaning. When we commit to keeping the tragic happenings of December 14th, 2012 in our hearts forever we are admitting that we have been changed. We are giving ourselves over to that change completely emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And at the essence of this change is our acknowledgement that our perspective of the world in which we live has changed, permanently.
Isn't such a complete change exactly what the birth of Jesus and the story of the nativity is all about? In the midst of death and injustice, quarreling and deep set fear, a baby was born who would make the world brand new. This Son of God would exemplify peace at times of war, justice amidst injustice, and, most importantly, dispel fear of death with hope for life everlasting.
You see, with Christ in our lives - in our world - we are changed to be fearless against death. With Christ as our guides gunmen and economic hardship and the death of children en masse cannot cause us to lose hope. With Christ as our truth nothing can kill the flame that burns with divine obduration both in our heart and in our spirit.
And so, my charge this Christmas Day is to Never Forget. Be permanently changed that we can receive our Prince of Peace in fearless hope. Resist the world's temptation to be encouraged by darkness and, instead, insist on the light that is Christ, ever burning from within Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. And may we share His grace with the world from this holy day, eternally.