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.
(LSB 357 st. 6)
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
Today marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Consequently, it is the longest night of the year. As we pause to acknowledge and wonder at how God has ordered this annual day in His creation, so we pause this night to ponder the day and night of His eternal plan for our salvation.
When Adam and Eve fell into sin, a spiritual darkness fell over all creation. With that began a long spiritual night of thick darkness that Isaiah describes. And we know this darkness too, for we each were born sinners, in need of illumination. We are in need of comfort when death’s dark shadows frighten us. We need light to lead us out from under the thick, gloomy clouds of sadness, loss, and heartache.
And so Isaiah directs our gaze to the horizon, to look for the Son of Righteousness, the true light who was coming into the world. This light born of Mary laid in the manger and shone on the shepherds. And we look to the light of the world, who was born to cheer us from on high. The Scriptures illuminate to us our Savior, who was crucified under a cloud of darkness to atone for our sins. By His death He made death flee so that we may be illuminated with faith in Him. We truly live in an endless day bearing the light of Christ in a world still beset with darkness and deathly shadows. We wait for Christmas morning to once again celebrate the light who has come into the world, who rose on Easter morning, and who will come again in the Resurrection.
Let us pray: O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting, come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Carl Wendorff, Sem IV)