Friday, December 6

Creator of the Stars of Night [9th century Latin trans. Mason Neale 1851]

Come, Sun and Savior to embrace
Our gloomy world, its weary race,
As groom to bride, as bride to groom:
The wedding chamber, Mary's womb.

This Stanza of the hymn puts me in mind of a Sufi poem:
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
"You owe me."

Look what happens with a love like that.  It lights up the whole sky.
                                                --     Trans. Daniel Ladinsky

By the third century Christians like Saint Cyprian would write of Jesus, that he was our "true sun and real day."  They saw the daily waxing and waning of light as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of life and were prone in their daily prayers (particularly at the prayers which corresponded to the "hinge" moments of the day - sun rise and sun set) to give thanks to God for the coming of the light of Christ.  Even at Sunset they gave thanks for the life of Christ which shines in the darkness.

"Come, Sun and Savior to embrace our gloomy world, its weary race."  Though the world did not seem radiant with the love of Christ, nevertheless, our early ancestors in the faith were bold to cry, "come!"

The Sufi wisdom of the poem obviously comes from a faith-tradition outside of Christendom, and yet the truth to which it points is one that Christians, too, recognize as "true."  God's grace, which allows the love of God to send the rain and the sunshine on the good and bad alike, never says, "You owe me."  God is not a sullen and resentful giver.  It is precisely because the love of God is freely given that it lights up the whole sky.
Though God's grace is freely given, it is not hard to see that we have not been good receivers of that mercy.  We are offered the choice to walk in the ways that lead to life, and too often, we choose to remain in the ruts which keep us from embracing the very love God desires to give us.  
Advent is a season in which we can,
"Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls."
[Jeremiah 6:16 NRSV]
Scripture reports of those to whom Jeremiah gave that instruction: "But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'"  Our task is to not be so stiff-necked and persistent in our ways that we fail to embrace a new life God is offering and walk in it.

Daily Collect:
Come, Sun and Savior to embrace our gloomy world, its weary race.  You are the light of life - the one who comes with the wings of morning.  Help us to receive the gifts you offer and learn from you the way to be generous with others.  We pray in the name of Jesus, our "true sun, our real day."  Amen.

Paul Lang