“O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”
I know little of hope, except perhaps the shadowy thing that normally takes its name. Songs like “Be Still My Soul” measure my faith better than “How Great Thou Art.” I long for hope—or else I long not to need it. But what value is hope apart from the worthiness of that for which we hope? A man, lost in darkness and hoping in flint and kindling lives less in light than the man hoping for sunrise, doesn’t he?
Israel, and Abraham before her, and Noah and then Adam before them, all awaited something. Humankind doused the light of Gen. 1:3, and creeping things came out and crept with us. The babe to-be-born would later call out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” echoing the psalmist. And in moments of ashen clarity, we recognize it, too—where is God? And then hope whispers back, “He’s coming,” and deposits a baby in the womb of an unmarried, teenage Jew.
We had not hoped for that. And then, with the taste of bread and fish still in our mouths, he departed—first by death and then by ascension. We had not hoped for that either. But God cannot be gainsaid.
So as night spins on in darkness,
Dawn has come
And is coming.
And the king will return, and all wickedness will wither before him, and suffering will know it’s master, and death will be undone. Dawn will awake and scrape away the shadows, and once again the earth will feel the sizzle of light. And at long last we will lay eyes on the Son, the child of Mary and Joseph, our one and only hope.