Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sermon: St. Lucia – 2011

14 December 2011 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Matt 13:44-52

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Last night, our Lutheran brothers and sisters – along with many other Christians around the world – called to mind the saint and martyr known as St. Lucy or St. Lucia as she is known in her native Italian.

In Scandinavia, this is a very dark time of year.  In some parts of these Lutheran countries, the light of the sun doesn’t shine at all during this time of year.  And in the middle of the December darkness, young Lutheran girls put on white gowns symbolizing the innocence and purity of virginity, and adorn their heads with crowns bearing flickering candles in honor of St. Lucia – who died as a martyr of the Christian faith in the year 304 AD.

St. Lucy was known for her generosity as a Christian, even giving away her dowry to the poor – not only giving away her great wealth out of love, she was to give up her very life as a testimony of the love of God.  Her name means “light” – and in spite of her captors cruelty (tradition teaches us that she was blinded before she was killed), neither Satan nor the grave could extinguish her inner light – for “Jesus Christ is the light of the world.  The light no darkness can overcome.”

For as the Light of the world has taught us:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.”  Lucia’s lifeless murdered body was placed in a grave, hidden in a field as it were, hardly the stuff of treasure in the eyes of the world – just one more dead girl, one more executed Christian, one more candle snuffed out, one more person who would not obey the state, one more speed bump in a cruel Caesar’s quest for being like God.

And yet it is St. Lucy who now “in glory shines” while “we feebly struggle” and while the unbelieving Caesars of every time and place wail and gnash their teeth in the darkness.  Evil may have claimed Lucy’s eyes, Satan may have spilled her lifeblood, but she sees God face to face, she who was sanctified by the very blood of Christ!  And what’s more, the light of Christ shone in her good works and good confession, reflecting this holy light upon those of us who “dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

A single lamp shining defiantly chases away the darkness.  For darkness cannot even abide one flickering candle even as a mighty Caesar cannot abide a young girl who confesses a king greater than he whom the King of the universe created and allowed to reign for a time by His eternal will.  St. Lucy’s eternal testimony, like that of the many martyrs of her age, proclaimed to the world that we Christians have overcome death – by the death of Christ – and that through Christ, in Christ, by Christ, and yes even with Christ – we have eternal life.  We share in His light. We stand defiant against the darkness of the grave.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world, the light of life, the uncreated light who created light by means of His uncreated Word – shines among us, through us, and in us, dear friends.  Even when – and especially when – all we see around us with our failing eyes is the darkness of our sins, the inevitability of death, and the cruelty of this world’s Satanic tyranny – His Word remains a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path.”

Like St. Lucia, we know not only the source of all light, we share in that Light – the light that conquers the darkness, the light that brings hope to a dark world:

The light of Christ: the light no darkness can overcome!

Dear friends, we may not have a St. Lucy’s Day pageant in which young girls process in white robes and wear fiery crowns, but we all wear the white robes of holy baptism, all of us bear the crown of the Lord’s martyrdom for us, a martyrdom reflected by the light of St. Lucia’s countenance and the steadfast love of her life of service and sacrifice.  And we all bear – with St. Lucy and all the saints – the light that breaks the darkness and destroys sin and death in their very tracks at the speed of light.

“Jesus Christ is the light of the world.  The light no darkness can overcome!”


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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