O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting; Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol iustitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.
It shouldn't be like this. I'm about to write on the "Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting" and its dreary, overcast, and dull outside.
What happened to the Sunshine State, Florida?
Oh well. No bright dawn for us this morning. But in this O Antiphon for December 21st, the verse builds off the metaphor of the turn of the dawn. It's a beautiful picture and one we can appreciate, especially as we turn the page of the calendar on the Winter Solstice, the day of long darkness. We yearn for light to shine.
I'm a morning person. When Elizabeth and I lived in South Africa I used to get up before dawn, make coffee, and sneak out the back door to our patio before light broke over Mabola, Mpumalanga. Mpumalanga literally means, "the place where the sun rises" and one of my favorite memories of living there was watching the mist and smoke rise to mix with the tendrils of early morning light breaking over the golden grassy mounts, mud brown huts, and red dirt roads. One of my other favorites was the birds. Crested barbets. Sacred ibis. Weavers. Red-headed cisticola. Starlings.
Even before dawn broke and Mabola awoke the birds would sing softly, begin flitting between branches, going about their waking hours as if it was already day.
Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, "faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark."
We are the people who "sit in darkness," the ones who dwell in the shadow of death yearning for light to break. And so it has. So it will. We are the people on whom light has, and will, dawn. As Charles Spurgeon penned, "the light which will come...lies all in Christ; and...(joyful news!) that light has already sprung up all around [us]: they have but to to open their eyes to delight in it."
I don't know your situation. It may be one of great darkness, one of serious sadness. I grieve with you, truly I do. But light has dawned and will dawn. Tomorrow, or the "tomorrow" after that, Christ will come and night will break forth into glorious day (Is 58:8).
Let us take confidence in the promise of the light to come this Advent, let us take heart in the dawn to break this Christmas, let us, with faith like birds, feel the light that has sprung up around us and sing, and dance, and get to work while dawn is still yet dark.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus, come.