O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
“who visits us like the dawn from on high” (Luke 1:78)
“to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79)
In this darkest time of the year, after the solstice when the day is shortest and night longest, we long for the light. We are waiting for longer days to return – yet the morning star heralds the coming of the day . Midwinter dawn, if we can see it on a fine morning, is a glorious sight. It breaks on the world, bringing hope and promise to our eyes, just as the coming of God as a human baby, as one of us, brings hope to our hearts.
These words evoke the vision of the community of worshippers in the presence of God in Revelation 22 “And there will be no more night, for the Lord God will be their light.” As ever in Advent, we look to the fulfilment of God’s kingdom.
The light of justice is heralded in this antiphon. We acknowledge the continuing need of our world for God’s righteousness, so that light may shine in every dark place. We hunger for righteousness, still now in our darkened world.
Zechariah’s prophecy tells of the promised One who will bring light to all. We, having witnessed the light of Christ’s first coming, yearn for the light to dawn in all dark places at the coming of the kingdom.
This powerful prayer tugs at our deepest heartstrings with the imagery of light brought to all who need it.
It has been set to music powerfully by James Macmillan – you might already have heard this music at a Christmas concert. It is haunting and prayerful as well as a powerful cry to God from those in darkness, but who hold fast to their faith in the bringer of Light. This modern music brings these ancient words to powerful life for me.
O God of Justice shine your light of righteousness today on all who are oppressed, all who live under a shadow, and all who feel their hope diminished by their circumstances. Kindle your flame within each of us that we may burn brightly with your love and hope. Today and always, Amen
The Rev’d Helen Everard, minister at Fleet United Reformed Church in Hampshire