Midnight Mass 2020
Rev'd Lizzie Kesteven

Midnight Mass SermonRev'd Lizzie Kesteven
00:00 / 10:07

Readings

1 John 1: 1 - 14

Welcome all wonders in one sight!

Eternity shut in a span.

Summer in winter, day in night,

heaven in earth and God in man.

Great little one whose all-embracing birth

brings earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.

 

That prayer! That opening prayer – is one of my favourites of the whole of the church. There is something about that image – of wonders, of eternity, of colliding of seasons and time, and the mingling of God and man. It is the same image as some of the famous carols which bring us the idea of heaven stooping near the earth. Like an adult stooping down to pick up a child. It is where the big things mingle and mix with the little.

Big things and little things. Divine things and earthly things. Mystery and Wonders with the grit and reality of daily life.

 

It has been suggested that when we read the bible, especially the gospels that we get two different pictures. We get the swooping inspiring and over arching pictures that are created – that speak of the whole bigger picture of God. Our reading from John’s gospel tonight is one of those.

And we get the story telling gospel – the one where we are invited into a manger, a journey, with some shepherds and a king or two. We find that in the story of Jesus that Luke tells us. Both are important. Both tell the same thing. They just do it in a very different way.

 

Saint John tells the story of Jesus, by trying to link Jesus, not just to the time spent here on earth, but to the bigger picture. This is not just a baby, but this is a God. It is the word, the logos, the beginning that was in the very beginning. Jesus and God are simultaneously the one and the same. Both able to reign in the heavens, who are part of the cosmos, defining time and space. It’s the big picture

 

And yet there God is as “flesh” that has chosen to dwell with us. A little thing, a tiny thing. Us – the same as us. The same bones, and blood, the same sinews, and marrow, the same muscles and fibres that make up our very bodies. God born as one of us. In the littlest of people.

 

This year has seen a colliding of big things and little things. We as a people across the whole world have been grappling with perhaps the biggest thing in and across our generations. What does it mean to have a global pandemic? How do we function and operate as countries and as people, in the wake of a virus that pays no heed to dates or times, that cares little for wealth or poverty, festivals or freedoms? That feeling of helplessness and being far beyond our control. Yet in those big things there have been some significant and big moments of wonder and light as well as fear and darkness. We watched as the waters in the canals in Venice began to clear and we could see the wonders of life again beneath their surface. As travel through air and sea and land came to a grinding halt, the air became cleaner for a while. Cities which had been covered in smog, became places we could see the stars. We looked around and stated to notice those who in the day to day were taken for granted and paid little, on the supermarket checkouts and shelf stackers. The word key worker is one that last Christmas no one knew.

 

Yet it is not just the big things – the global and the cosmic. We have also become aware of the little things. The very details of the day to day. The importance of the essentials? Will there be flour today? How to notice a smile beneath a mask. How to live alongside others in work and play simultaneously often in small spaces. The little things in life, seeing a neighbour and waving – felt important.

 

And the littlest thing ever, that people I hear long for, at this moment in time, doesn’t cost any amount of money and is something that I certainly took for granted – the chance to hug a friend, or for my children to spend time with their grandparents. It’s the littlest and biggest thing – all wrapped into one.

 

In the cradle this night – we have the littlest and the biggest thing ever – all wrapped into one. We have a wonder that spans an eternity, and one that means heaven and earth collide. But in the littlest of beings, born of flesh and blood as each and everyone of us are. In this child, come all the hope and dreams of the world then and now wrapped into one. The prayers of a world perhaps chiming the same this night.

 

“Please Lord, keep those I love safe”.

“Dear God, may we one day soon be with people again.”

“Almighty Father, a hug from someone soon would be amazing.”

 

There are the littlest of prayers, but they will carry such the biggest of hopes. The hope that we all have deep down – that we might be with others. Just as God in all eternal divinity chose to be with us – as much now as it was all those years ago.

 

Welcome all wonders in one sight!

Eternity shut in a span.

Summer in winter, day in night,

heaven in earth and God in man.

Great little one whose all-embracing birth

brings earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth