At Christmas/Advent, the birth of Jesus Christ reminds us of the love of God. The many symbols of our faith remind us that God is our refuge and strength.. 

The passage which anchors this sermon is John 1:1-18. You can read it here.


Christianity uses many symbols to convey important ideas. The Jesse Tree by our baptismal font is decorated with many symbols of our faith.

The Jessee Tree flush with symbols

The cross reminds us of Christ’s death and God’s sacrificial love for the world. The star refers to the star that appeared to the men in the East and guided them to the presence of Jesus. The anchor was used by some of the first believers to encourage their belief that Christ was the anchor for their souls when everything is being turned upside down. God is our hope and our refuge and our stability.

Another symbol surrounds us from the altar to the advent wreath and Christ candle, to the candles suspended all around the sanctuary: light. Altar lights, candle lights, and house lights. There are many kinds of lights.

There is a phrase that is used in photography to describe the change of light in the morning and evening when the sun is just above the horizon. The phrase is “the golden hour.” 

In the early hours of the day, the sky is dark and as the sun begins to rise the dark is turned to blues, pinks, oranges, and reds. When the sun is fully above the horizon the light changes to white and golden; this is the golden hour.

The process is reversed in the evening. As the sun begins to set there is a golden hue and then the colors in the western sky turn orange, pink, purple, blue, dark blue, then black.

A few weeks ago, the sunrise was at exactly 7:00 am. Our youngest woke up and came downstairs. Our kitchen window faces east and the sky was marvelously lit. I picked him up and pointed at the eastern sky and I said with excitement, “Look at the sunrise! That’s the beginning of the golden hour!”

He said, “I’m hungry.” 

Some of us enjoy the light more than others, I guess.

Most of our waking and active moments are spent living between the golden hour of the morning and the blue of the evening. We make decisions, and experience hunger like my son. We plan for today and tomorrow and beyond. We try our best. A lot of life happens between the golden and the blue.

Christ is our Light and shines in our every moment.

Our Situation and Our Savior

Some of you enter this Christmas with great burdens and worries. There may be people in your life who mean the world to you who are hurting. Maybe you are hurting. You may experience what many others feel, a deep loneliness or sorrow that is hard to put into words. You may have a difficult time with financial uncertainty, health issues, or relationships that are not working well. Maybe you find a desire within yourself to have a faith that grows in depth as your life grows in complexity.

If that is you or if that has ever been you, then Christ came especially for you. As John says in the opening chapter of his gospel, “The light (Jesus) shines in the darkness, yet darkness did not overcome it.” 

There are seasons and shadows in our life. We experience great graces and we also experience pain and deep longings. We may feel we are in the valley of the shadow. God’s promise to us is that the light of Christ will shine.

The psalmist said of God, “Your word, O God, is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” Notice that the light doesn’t illumine the whole road ahead, but only the path around our feet.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I like that. We deepen our faith and exercise our trust when we truth that God will help us up to the next step, and helps us do the next right thing.

Isaiah prophesized that God would do such a beautiful and miraculous work that people would declare in response, “Those people living in darkness have seen a great light.” 

This is the testimony of the gospels. Jesus Christ, the light of God and the light of the World, came into this beautiful and broken world to redeem it. He never once shied away from meeting people in the shadows. He entered the grief of a family. He entered the moment of those facing overwhelming health issues, and he entered the moment of spiritual struggle and longing when the pain replied to Jesus, “I do believe, but help my unbelief.” 

Will Jesus not also be there for you? He entered every situation imaginable and through the grace of God, Christ will also be active and real in our life. 

Christ is our golden hour. He shines clearly so we may see the face of God in his face and he reminds us that God is our refuge and strength. He is our shield and defender. He is the anchor that holds us fast.  He is the sacrificial love that extends grace.

My prayer for you is that as you continue your lie that you would see reminders of the light that shines upon you with benevolence. I pray that you would be reminded that God is light and the light is good. 

I pray that you will become the one who testifies, “I was the one in darkness, but I have seen the great light.” Amen.

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