Rev Dr John McCulloch
Watchnight Service, 24th of December 2018
My heroes are no longer the warriors and kings… but the things that lead to peace..
In Wim Wender’s film ‘Wings of desire’, one of the main characters says:
My heroes are no longer the warriors and kings… but the things that lead to peace… (…)
What is wrong with peace, that its inspiration doesn’t endure…, and that its story is hardly told?
The longing for peace and wholeness is a God-given desire that has been planted deep within the human heart… The main character in Wings of Desire, laments that we live in a world, where the stories, the narratives of peace are seldom told…, a world which all too often forgotten the ways of peace.
The Christmas story, reminds us of how the God of peace comes into our world.
Not in the ways which had been expected…
Not in the form of a warrior king.
Not as a commander and chief.,
Not is human power or violence,
but as a baby, coming in the frailty and vulnerability of human flesh,
at one with us,
to transform our world from within.
Christ’s birth at Christmas, is not only a reminder that God associates with the weak and vulnerable of this world,
but is a reminder that for good to prevail, transformation needs to come from within, it cannot be forcefully imposed from without.
We know this all too well in our lives don’t we?
When there are things about ourselves that we want to change, we seldom respond well to others pointing the finger and telling us how we could be different?
Much better if we have an awareness that wells up from within, longing for inner renewal and transformation, which is the only change that is real and lasting…
Ghandi famously said:
‘Be the change you want to see in the world’.
In saying this, he was reminding us that change has to first happen from within, before in can spread out and take its effect in the communities and world in which we live…
In other words, if you want a less angry world, be less angry.
If you want a more compassionate world, be more compassionate.
If you want a more gracious and forgiving world, be more forgiving…
Of course we cannot do this in our own strength, for we all fail…
We are human, and make mistakes, and we need to renewed day by day.
The Christmas story reminds us that God comes to us in grace, and longs for our lives to open to Him, for our hearts to become the manger, the place where He can be born.
God is looking tonight for a place to be born.
But most of the inns of this world are full.
Most places have closed their doors to him.
Too full to welcome home in, because they have other priorities…
Full, because they want a different kind of guest…
Full, because the temporary cares and fleeting attractions of this world have blinded their eyes to the true eternal light of God….
God comes to each one of us afresh tonight.
He comes in grace
He comes in forgiveness
He comes in love.
Will you open your heart to him?
Will you make your heart a home, so that our lives and our world will be transformed from places of conflict, to ones of peace and love?
God Emmanuel is here with us, and enters our world of shadows with the light of his presence.
He brings hope that light will overcome darkness, that love will win out over violence and fear.
So at this time of expectation and promise, let us open our hearts up afresh to him tonight, that we may be consumed with his love and grace, for the healing of our souls, and for the healing of our world.
This is our hope, and this is our prayer this Christmas.