Darkness shrouds the earth; midnight’s shade beclouds the peoples of this world. But not the church. Get up, Israel, shine as if you’ve swallowed a liquid sun and your every pore is a window of fire. Your Light has been born, winking out over a virgin horizon to illumine a cosmos of sunless, starless, moonless night.
A star appears in the East, twinkling over its Creator, a single constellation bows over that Light of Light from whom darkness flees. He who said, Let there be light, becomes His own word.
He is the Sun before whom all suns flicker as candles;
the Fire before whom all flames are as ash;
the Heat before whom all summers shiver in shame.
Nations travel to this light, the whole Gentile world compressed into the Magi. They bring gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Thine own of Thine own they offer unto Thee, this baby God bouncing on His mother’s knee. They regift the Giver of all to whom no gift truly can be given, for from him and to him and through him are all things, both in heaven and on earth.
To you, Bethlehem, in land of Judah, they travel, for from you comes a Ruler who will shepherd God’s people, Israel. The lost sheep of the house of Judah, the lost sheep of Greece and Rome and Persia and America, they hear your voice, that infant cooing
that will one day be the adult beseeching
that will one final day be the crucified man
dying for you.
That voice the sheep hear, for they know the voice of their shepherd, even when He is the lamb silent before those who slaughter him. He is born in Bethlehem, of the house and lineage of David, for he is David’s Son and Lord, the root and stem of Jesse, the slayer of hell’s Goliath, and the ruler of Israel.
Come and worship him, for there is no other to worship. All other gods are devils, all other ways are pits, all other truths are lies. He is the gold of the Father, who, for your sake became poor, that you he might enrich. He is the frankincense and myrrh of heaven, the incense of whose sacrificed body will waft upward as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, an incense in which the stench of every sin becomes as perfume.
He is the Epiphany of everything God is, everything God has, every gift God desires to lavish upon you. The Alpha of love, the Omega of grace, and every combination of the letters of the alphabet that spells out the Father’s will to save you.
Arise, O Church, and shine, for your Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!
(The church will celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord on January 6. This meditation draws primarily from Isaiah 60 and Matthew 2, two of the readings for that day.)
If you’d like to read more of my writings, please check out my two books: Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons and The Infant Priest: Hymns and Poems. Click here if you’d like to purchase Christ Alone or here for The Infant Priest. They are both also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing. Thank you!