Friday, December 23, 2011 — Week of 4 Advent , Year Two
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p 939)
Psalms 93, 96 (morning) 148, 150 (evening)
Baruch 4:21-29 *
Luke 1:67-80 or Matthew 1:1-17
*found in the Apocrypha
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, speaks at the circumcision of his son. The words from Luke’s gospel are familiar ones — used as a canticle in worship for centuries, available in the liturgy of Episcopal Church both for the Daily Office and for the Eucharist.
I’m struck by the words, “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.”
It seems a powerful prayer for this time of life. I find it resonates with my deepest yearnings for our nation and people during dark times of fear, division and abuse of power. I am looking for the dawn from on high to break upon us and show us light and direction toward peace. Not just peace that is the absence of conflict, but the wider peace that is expressed so evocatively by the Hebrew word “shalom.”
The need for God’s dawning light is a daily need in each life. We all sit in some form of darkness. We all live in the shadow of death, not only the inevitable end of our earthly lives but also all of the ways life is threatened, diminished, minimized.
Part of the church’s invitation to the discipline of Daily Morning Prayer is the experience of joining centuries of dawnings through the word of scripture, canticle and prayer, bringing light from on high and guiding our feet into the way of shalom.
We join Zechariah in prayer this day. “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.” May this Christmas be the dawning of that light in the darkness which guides us into the way of peace.