Sermon of Bishop Peter Bürcher on Christmas 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christmas is the light among us. Whom are we celebrating this Christmas day? A child. A child in whom our God became man and at the same time this man remains our God! This mystery of the Incarnation of God is our light.
Christmas is the light of our faith. Earlier, the prophet Isaiah wrote: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone"(Is 9,2).
The sign of the nearness of God is Christ the child. The newborn child is awake and completely open towards those who see him. In the crib he stretches his arms towards us, inviting us ... His parents, Mary and Joseph are there. The child illuminates and warms their hearts. Mary is very young. She wants to tell us: Young people can decide what to do with their lives! They have all "necessities of life" around them: Food, water, clothing, shelter and warmth - and community. The ones who have it are supposed to help others who do not have it. In that manner, they can be the light for others. The desire for "more" makes everyone -young and old- hope for light, for meaning, for salvation.
Let us consider the pastoral scene: This "more" is in the eyes of the shepherds, the voice of God resonating from the angels in the sky of Bethlehem. And his Good News is: "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a saviour has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant ... "
Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid of going to the crib, to the light. For as the author (Sigfried Grän) wrote: "Not only the light, sanity, beauty and strength, as well as moral perfection is a part of being human. A part of being human includes also darkness, poverty, disease, loss of faith, fear, despair. Let us rejoice that God became a human in every sense, that he has taken on the light and shadow of our existence." Christmas is the light of God for all!
Christmas 2014 is in the year of Consecrated Life and the upcoming Synod on the family in 2015, according to the decision of our Pope Francis. What does that mean for us here in Iceland? For example, we enjoy the grace of having 31 religious sisters for 13,000 Catholics, a figure that rises every year. They are a light for us all. Unfortunately, none of them is of Icelandic origin. Let us pray for them and for new vocations in Iceland.
Religious priests manage three of our six parishes in the diocese. There we also need new vocations, because among our 18 priests, we have currently only one Icelandic priest, Séra Hjalti. And now a great hope: In January 2015, we expect a visit of three Benedictine monks from France who might be interested in Úlfljótsvatn, although they have not made a decision yet. This could be a new light for us all. Let us place all this in the crib as well as all our worries and desires. The Christ child stretches his open arms towards us. All of us, religious brothers and sisters, priests, bishops and laity, especially our families, shall be the light of hope and peace for others. This is how we construct the church, in which the light of Christ shines, as it says in the "Lumen Gentium" of the II. Vatican Council, which took place fifty years ago.
Dear brothers and sisters, in the Christmas star, in the crib the light of God is shining, His will of salvation for all of us. Unto us a child is born, Light from Light, true God from true God.
Therefore I say, blessed Christmas!