Friday, 21 December 2012

21st December 2012 - O Oriens

O Daystar, you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

The antiphon for this the shortest day of the year, Winter Solstice, does not curse the darkness, but rejoices in the light that persists. Oriens / Dayspring refers to the sun. Without the sun's light no life on earth could have evolved, or exist today. It is not surprising that the sun has been worshipped as a god in many cultures throughout the world since time immemorial.

The Hebrews even borrowed an Egyptian poem in praise of the sun God and adapted it for use in worship - the first part of Psalm 19 - while making it clear that "the heavens are telling the Glory of God, the firmament makes know His handiwork." All that sustains life on earth is the gift of the unknown and unseen Author of all.

The church at prayer never worshipped the sun but sees Christ's presence symbolised in what the sun provides. In St John's Gospel the coming Christ is called 'the light shining in darkness, which darkness cannot overcome'. It is a tribute to the persistence of His presence at all seasons, in all times and places. As he concludes his ministry on earth Jesus says: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." There is no place where the light of Christ cannot penetrate.

He is the light which exposes all hidden in darkness, for good or for ill. 
He is the light of hope to those who cannot see the way to go in the darkness of this passing age. 
He is the light of truth and justice to those whose discernment fails and go astray. 
He is the light of trust, to those whose confidence has been betrayed and shattered. 
He is the light of encouragement to those who are infirm and have lost their strength. 
He is the light of compassion to those who are wounded and suffer. 
He is the light of freedom to those opression by others or by their own fears and disordered passions. 
He is the light of transformation at the lowest ebb, heralding a new beginning.
He is the light of tender gentleness enfolding the anxious child hiding in the dark depths of self.
He is the light of pure self-giving love that gives meaning and purpose to all that exists.

He is the one whose life we welcome, born that night, when great fear was overwhelmed by great joy.

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