*During the last week of Advent there are a special little group of prayers called the O Antiphons that the church has traditionally sung during Evening Prayer. The O Antiphons are seven distinct verses that all begin with a vocative “O” followed by a title which reflects a specific attribute of Christ.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice
come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

This antiphon is a request to a person, but not just any person.

The request is simple…come. Come to us. Bring light to us. Shine on us who dwell in darkness, We live surrounded by darkness—the literal darkness of the shadowed sun every night, the global darkness of wars and poverty and violence, the national darkness of division and animosity, the personal darkness that comes to each of us from time to time in our circumstances. There’s a lot of darkness, sometimes we can feel with David in Psalm 139 that “Surely the darkness shall cover me”. In those times when the darkness feels near, we make a request, “Come.”

And we make that request to a person, but not just any person, but to one who goes by many names, “Radiant Dawn”, “Morning Star”, “Second Person of the Uncreated Light”, or most commonly to our ears…Jesus of Nazareth, come Jesus the Christ. Come, “Splendor of Eternal Light”.

John 1.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 Jesus was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.…9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

Jesus came, that same Jesus who called himself “The Light of the World”.

Light coming into the world is a big deal, light coming into darkness is no small thing. For us living in today’s world, we forget this because now it’s so darn easy to bring light to darkness. None of us has grown up without light bulbs, which were not even available until just 150 years ago. And wow, most people and I’m guessing each one of us here tonight literally have a light with them all the time wherever we go. There’s not even a need to find a flashlight any more because we have one in our pocket!

But it was not always so. For millennia, just until the late 1880s, there were only two ways for light to break darkness. Fire, and Sun. Each of these created things contains divine revelation. Each of them has something to teach us of the ways of God and the ways of reality and how things actually work.

This is my home study. Each morning it looks like this. It is dark.

And so I light a candle, and all of a sudden I can see. Light has come into the room, and darkness is pushed back.

If there’s a lot of darkness, I make a bigger fire.

But I’m waiting for a bigger fire still, which lights up everything and shines on me and everyone.

That’s how the Christian life goes…we wait for the final Radiant Dawn whose name is Radiant Dawn, and while we wait we focus on the light of Christ that has already entered our rooms, and we light bigger fires, and ask for more light to come, looking forward to that heavenly city which, to quote Revelations 21.23 has “no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

Where does it feel dark to you in your life? Where are you keenly aware of heavy darkness in our world?

O Jesus, “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice
Come [Jesus], shine on us who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

SOUNDINGS” posts consider topics that are important for our society, for the Church, and for our own spiritual journeys.  To ‘take a sounding’ is a nautical term about using depth to determine where you are and where you’re going.  These writings are designed to do just that.  Please share this post with friends you think might appreciate it.  If you would like to get SOUNDINGS posts from me sent directly to your inbox, click here.


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