The Light of Christmas Shines and the night isn’t scary any more.

Bishop Mark - Christmas Sermon 2013

Bishop Mark tweets Christmas Midnight Eucharist sermon and send video message to the region via twitter.
The Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow delivered the following sermon on Christmas Eve 2013 at Durham Cathedral during the midnight Eucharist service. Bishop Mark also tweeted elements of the sermon via social media and recorded a special Christmas Eve message. Tweeting using the hashtag #CSWCDD (Christmas Starts With Christ in Durham Diocese) and #ChristmasStarts (The National Campaign) the sermon was well received across the region and beyond. Bishop Mark said: “The social media campaign #ChristmasStartsWithChrist or #CSWC was initiated last year and was a great success. We had people following all over, so it seemed like a good idea to do it again and this time to adding video messages as people really seem to engage using social media. Christmas midnight message Christmas Day message Bishop Mark gave a variant of his Christmas Eve sermon at the Franklin prison morning Eucharist service. The full sermon follows. Bishop Mark’s Sermon – Midnight Eucharist Christmas 2013 / Franklin Prison Christmas Day [expand-contract expand-title=”Read-On” swaptitle=”Finished-Reading” trigclass=”expand-highlight” trigpos=”below” tag=”readon”] Night time – particularly when you cannot sleep – can be a difficult time. You lie awake tossing. Your brain is all over the place. You worry “What will happen if I lose my job. What will happen if something happens and we can’t pay the mortgage?” or perhaps “What will happen if she leaves me?” or ” What happens if they discover at work what I’ve been up to?”. Lying awake at night time can be a time for worrying and thinking “ If only I had not done …” Perhaps even “Where did I go wrong with my children?” Things can get out of all proportion – night time can be a time of real worry and anxiety and restlessness. But tonight’s story says that wonderful things can happen at night. The shepherds are out guarding their flock. Suddenly the sky lights up and the night isn’t scary any more –only it probably is because a whole host of angels and the glory of the Lord shining all around you probably is a bit scary at least first time round! But this is a night when wonderful things happen and the shepherds rush through the dark night to the stable and there is the baby just as the angels had told them. This is the baby – the baby that people have waited and longed for, for thousands and thousands of years and here it is. Wonderful things can happen at night There is a lovely old prayer for Christmas night Blessed art thou, O Christmas Christ, that thy cradle was so low that shepherds, poorest and simplest of earthly folk, could yet kneel beside it, and look level-eyed into the face of God. And that is what happens in the middle of the night – the night in which wonderful things happen – the shepherds literally look level-eyed into the face of God. Wonderful things happen at night The story says that we are no longer alone, in the tossing and turning of the night, or indeed at any time, because the most high God has come amongst us as a baby. God has not turned his back on us. At the times when he appears to have gone away and left us he has not abandoned us.  He is with us and amongst us. And that is surely Good News; that we are never completely alone. So if tonight the world is now a different place and if God has not abandoned us, then we surely must have particular concern for those who do feel abandoned – to make sure that they feel at least a little less abandoned. My concern – and some of you will be aware of this in recent days is that more and more people seem to be feeling abandoned. There’s the man who suddenly discovers that his benefit has been completely cut for six weeks because he has not understood what he had to do. There is the mother who knows she must move house to prevent an increase in her rent but can find nowhere to move to. There is the elderly person who literally sees nobody for days at a time. Those whom God has chosen not to abandon cannot be allowed to be abandoned by us. And I just wonder what would happen if everybody here tonight and in every other church and cathedral in the land committed themselves to make sure that at least one person felt less abandoned. I wonder what would happen! But then wonderful things happen at night The message from God is that at night you are not alone because God has not turned his back on us but rather has decided to come calling. And that is good news because to be honest often it is not good to be alone at night. It is not good to be alone at night when you are tossing with anxiety and cannot sleep or when you are ill, or when you are homeless or when you are a child who gets nightmares. It’s not much fun being all alone and the story of tonight is that we are no longer alone; no longer alone with our worries, our regrets, with the things that keep us awake at night.
The Light of Christmas Shines and the night isn’t scary any more.
The Light of Christmas Shines and the night isn’t scary any more.
And so perhaps one night – or indeed some other time when you are feeling alone and somebody puts out a hand to reassure you – to reassure you that you are not alone. Do you take it? Do you hold their hand? Or does it feel safer to be on your own. The Light of Christmas Shines and the night isn’t scary any more. Almost every Christmas since the beginning of the Second World War preachers have quoted those lines quoted by George VI on the first Christmas of the Second World War: And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East. And so I wonder what it might mean for me – for you – on this night when marvellous things happen, when God has shown that he cannot abandon us and that we are not alone , to put your hand into the hand of God – and to know that in your moments of night you are not alone. [/expand-contract] The Dean of Durham’s Christmas Day Sermon The Dean of Durham, The Very Revd Michael Sadgrove gave a sermon at the Christmas Morning Eucharist entitled ‘AN ACROSTIC ON G-L-O-R-Y’ in which he talked about God, Light, Offering, Receiving and Yes. The full sermon can be found read in full here: Dean CHRISTMAS 2013

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