This is one of the few carols that is addressed to Jesus; the deceptive lullaby tune lulls us into a sense of nostalgia but the words remind us of the price Jesus paid for his ministry.
Isaiah 59: 20 – 60:5
And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord.
And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and for ever….
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
Born in the night, Mary’s Child, a long way from your home; coming in need, Mary’s Child, born in a borrowed room.
Clear shining light, Mary’s Child, your face lights up our way; light of the world, Mary’s Child, dawn on our darkened day.
Truth of our life, Mary’s Child, you tell us God is good; prove it is true, Mary’s Child, go to your cross of wood.
Hope of the world, Mary’s Child, you’re coming soon to reign; Savior of all, Mary’s Child, walk in our streets again.
So they’ve discovered “campfires” on the sun. Not real campfires of course, but mini solar flares. Solar flares have been known about for 160 years, but these “campfires” were only seen recently when the UK-built Solar Orbiter satellite flew near the sun. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, the various instruments on board the satellite could not be commissioned in the usual high-tech control room but from peoples’ bedrooms –in the case of the UK principal investigator, his son’s nursery! Scientists have always had to improvise in their voyages of discovery in search of light and truth.
Understanding how these campfires work will give a much better understanding of how the sun works
The sun, for us, is vital. It is the light generated by the sun which allows life to exist as we know it on earth. It is the visible light which allows some of us to see our way around. It is light which drives photosynthesis generating plant life which liberates the oxygen we need. It is the warmth of the sunlight which makes conditions on earth conducive to life, even in the darkest night.
Little by little we begin to understand more and more of God’s creation.
It is no accident that we equate enlightenment with understanding. We talk of seeing the light when a puzzle is solved. We consider an enlightened attitude to be one free of prejudices where social justice is central.
Little by little we seek to understand the mind of Christ: to let his light shine in the dark.
We seek enlightenment through our reading and study of Scripture, in our prayer life and in our interactions with others. Yet we realise that there is so much more to understand. We might echo the words of Pastor John Robinson “The Lord hath yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word.” (Congregational Praise 230)
Born in the night, coming in need, help us discern the needs of your children as we stumble through a benighted world. Clear shining light of the world, help us to bring enlightenment where there is ignorance, dispelling darkness and exposing corruption.
Truth of our life, prove it is true, help us to speak truth to power that justice for all is the true path to a dawn of peace. Amen.
The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon. He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC.