The Dawn From On High

AM Psalm 80; PM Psalm 146, 147
Isa. 29:13-24; Rev. 21:22—22:5; Luke 1:39-48a(48b-56)

Have you ever seen one of those crystals hanging from someone’s rear-view mirror? Have you ever been driving along, or maybe sitting at a stoplight, and all of a sudden the crystal dangling from the rear-view mirror of the car in front catches the sunlight just right and FLASH this amazing explosion of color appears out of nowhere? I don’t know why, but this used to happen to me fairly regularly. It seems to have tapered off lately, though. Maybe the folks who were into crystals have moved on to something else.

Now don’t worry, this meditation is not about crystals! It is not even about whether you should dangle stuff from your rear-view mirror–though I will confess to you that the father in me is saying that you shouldn’t! What this meditation is about is that FLASH, that explosion of reds and blues and purples that grabs you and causes you to look twice. It arrests you. It makes you focus your attention to seewhat happened and whether it will happen again.It yanks you out of your normal everyday rut of thinking about bills and meals and kids and parents and pets and friends and work and school and… It takes you someplace else: What was that? Did you see that color? Did something really happen, or am I just “seeing things”? Will it happen again?

Luke tells the story of Jesus’ birth in the second chapter of his Gospel account. The story of the shepherds begins in verse 9. I love the shepherds. Ordinary guys doing a dirty job that respectable people would not do. It’s nighttime, and they are out keeping track of the sheep.

Maybe you can feel the moment. It’s pretty quiet. Sheep are all around. You can smell them. It’s late, so the shepherds who are still awake aren’t talking very much. It’s chilly out. There’s a fire. A couple of the shepherds have gathered around it to warm up. They are staring into the fire, lost in their own thoughts…

FLASH: An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (v 9)

What was that? I can’t believe I’m not dead! Let’s get out of here!

FLASH: And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”(vv.10-12)

Did you hear that? What did he say? Is this all just in my head?

FLASH: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (vv. 13-14)

Did you see that? And the music–such music–such glorious music!

So the shepherds say to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (v. 15) They head to Bethlehem, and…

FLASH: They found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (v. 16)

Wow! It was just like the angel said it would be. Can you believe it? Praise God! Praise God! Praise God!

What will Christmas be for us? Will it be a FLASH? Will we open our hearts enough, lower our guards enough, humble ourselves enough to see the FLASH?  Will we have the courage to refrain from telling God what this FLASH must look like for us–will we allow the FLASH to be His FLASH for us?

Here’s the incredibly good news. If we humble ourselves to see His FLASH, if we will let the FLASH be His FLASH, that FLASH will be for us the first flash of the dawn…

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

Father God, may this be so for all of us. Bless us with the light of life. Lead us out of darkness and death. Lead us into your peace. Amen and Amen.

-Paul Marvin

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Filed under Advent, Gospels and Acts, Worship

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