Those of us who live in the northern hemisphere have come to the shortest days of the year. With the psalmist, we continue to pray for restoration—for ourselves, for those who suffer, for all creation, even for the church. This prayer calls for light in the midst of darkness and shadows: “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved.” God is the eternal source of light, and so God’s face shines, bringing light to all who need it.
Perhaps we don’t see light as a gift in the way that ancient peoples experienced it. Nevertheless, a necessary household chore in the days before electricity included the lighting of the evening lamp and quite early in Christian history, our sisters and brothers began using it to remind themselves of Jesus, the one whose light shines in darkness, whose light darkness does not overcome. (See John 1:5.) Sometimes we find it easier to believe in this light than others. Look into the night sky and think of the stars that we sing about this time of year. While some stars shine brightly, others present but a tiny point of light, barely visible in the night sky. Each star sheds some light. When we gaze at the stars, we look toward the very beginning, in some cases almost to the dawn of creation. The light that began its way toward us millions of years ago . . . waiting to be seen . . . now . . . by us . . . God affirms as “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Whether the light burns brightly or dimly, its source is God. Our confidence resides in that affirmation. Even as we wait in darkness, we catch a glimpse of the eternal future, the “city [that] has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light” (Rev. 21:23). So again, we wait with the psalmist and we pray, “Let your face shine, O God, on and through us.”
“O gracious Light, pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven, O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed! . . .Thou art worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices, . . . and to be glorified through all the worlds.” Amen. (BCP)
We are close to the reality of Jesus, in whom we have invested so much of our life and faith. Jesus is larger than life, shattering all the categories of conventional religious recognition. On the one hand, it is asserted that this is the “Son of David,” in continuity with the old dynasty and the old prom- ises. On the other hand, this is one “from the Holy Spirit,” not at all derived from the human dynasty. This twofold way of speak- ing about Jesus does not re ect vacillation or confusion in the community. Rather, it is an awareness that many things must be said about Jesus, because no single claim says enough.
• Read Isaiah 7:10-16. How and when has God saved you in unexpected ways?
• Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. What grace- lled steps have you taken to bring salvation and restoration to the world?
• Read Romans 1:1-7. The author suggests adding a chair to your feasting table. Whom will you invite to ll it?
• Read Matthew 1:18-25. When has God meddled in your life? What was the outcome?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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