Watch for the dawn…Advent 2013 Day 7

Everywhere in the world I have traveled, on at least one day, I make it a point to rise in the dark, grab my camera, and go to some advantageous point to sit and wait for the sunrise.  Some people like sunsets; I crave the moment when dawn breaks.  The picture I’ve included here is a picture of the sun rising over the Sea of Galilee, but I could just as easily have shown you dawn over Mexicoseaofgalilee, Spain, Bulgaria, Arizona and many other places…you can imagine that my photo file is somewhat difficult to manage. You see, in that moment when darkness becomes light, I see all the possibilities of a life of faith.

Yes, it is a cliche to say that we see God in the sunrise or the sunset.  Yes, it is problematic if  you only experience this one dimension of the divine and think that is where God lives…but the great rush of hope that occurs as the sky turns from black to whatever fabulous color that particular setting will offer is an amazing moment, so amazing and so universal that it is the metaphor that Luke offers us so that we might understand the importance of the coming life of this child who just joined us, John, the one called the Baptist.

Luke 1:76-80

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

It is a wonderful blessing on a birth, don’t you think?  And when I read it, I read it not just as a single blessing offered to a single baby in a story of long, long ago — not just as a foreshadowing of the birth of the next infant in Luke’s narrative — but as a blessing that is offered to every new baby and to each of us every day as the dawn breaks and we have yet another chance to learn and to grow and to worship and to love.  Advent invites us each church year to remember the possibility of that dawning, just as each sunrise beckons us to remember.

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, says the prophet Isaiah (60:1).

May I be lucky enough to live into this prophecy offered at John’s birthday, and someday, may people say of me that I grew and became strong in spirit.  And I am always happy to see the dawn, and know that I have one more chance to live that life. This is what I remember when I look at the dawn, camera in hand.

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