O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
There’s just something about all the lights at this time of year. In the cold and the dark of winter it does the heart good to see so many bright and festive lights festooning trees, and bathing front windows in a warm glow. The dark can be a depressing place to be. It can be a fearful place to be. It can be a lonely place to be. But a little bit of happy colour – a simple strand or two of well-placed lights, can make the dark seem safer, cozier, more friendly.
But many people know that there is a much deeper darkness that descends just around this time of year. The winter sun may be brightly beaming, but the world can still seem dark and gloomy for some. The holidays are a particularly tough time for many people facing illness, separation, grief or loss. There is nothing worse than the world telling you that you should be happy, when you can’t be. There is nothing more painful than watching others gather with family when you can’t. There’s nothing harder than seeing others giving and receiving when your life feels like it’s been taken from you.
But that’s why Jesus came. For broken families, for broken lives, for the sick and the lonely, the doubting and the despairing. He came into our world, to be knee-deep in the reality of living here as you and I do. Indeed, His life was so much like ours that at times it is downright depressing to read about. At times it must have seemed pretty dark. Born in a barn, not a palace. Placed in a manger, not a royal bed. Attended to by shepherds. Hunted and hounded by the powers that be. And eventually crucified like a common criminal, dead and buried in a borrowed tomb.
The story of this coming child is a very dark tale … until … on the third day the tomb is rent open to reveal a bright and glorious sight! The Sun of righteousness risen with Healing in His wings, as the prophet Malachi foretold! Glorious, wonderful, astonishing, light in the midst of blackest darkness. Sin paid for. Death undone. Hope and Life and Peace forevermore. And this is His promise to all who still sit under the darkness of their sin, and grief and pain … He will return with the light of everlasting life. He will come back and every last shadow of gloom and defeat and despair will be burned away forever in His glorious golden light. That’s a holiday light display I can’t wait to see!
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high, And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death’s dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!