Thursday, December 4, 2014

Starry Starry Night

Yesterday during our mid-week Evening Prayer we sang the hymn, Creator of the Stars at Night. It isn't quite as familiar as some others. And it never is a requested hymn -- at least in my experience. Yet it remains a treasure. It is a hymn that has been dated to the 9th century. So, for well over half of the Church's existence, this song has been sung. 

Perhaps even more profound than it's plainsong setting are the words. They have been variously translated from the original Latin and arranged accordingly, yet they get to the heart of the matter.

Take a moment to meditate on the following text of this hymn as included in our Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Creator of the stars of night,
Your people’s everlasting light, 
Oh Christ, Redeemer of us all, 
We pray you hear us when we call. 

When this old world drew on toward night 
You came, but not in splendor bright 
Not as a monarch but the child 
Of Mary, blameless, mother mild.

At your great name, oh Jesus, now 
All knees must bend all hearts must bow 
All things on Earth with one accord 
Like those in Heaven, shall call you Lord. 

Come in your holy might, we pray,
redeem us for eternal day;
defend us while we dwell below
from all assaults of our dread foe.

To God the Father, God the Son, 
And God the Spirit, Three in One, 
Praise, honor, might, and glory be 
From age to age eternally.


The Trinity with Chalice (1914) Eric Gill

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent. If you have not yet taken the opportunity to intentionally enter into this season of preparation and spiritual house-cleaning, there is still time. John the Baptizer appears on the horizon at the beginning of the gospel of Mark. His presence is a always a reminder of repentance and being prepared. He calls out to us: 
"The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me;
I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."   (Mark 1:7-8) 
Are we prepared? Are we ready to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? Are we willing to be fully immersed, covered over, and transformed by the Holy Spirit? What would such surrender and acceptance mean for you and for me? How might it empower and reconfigure our priorities and ability to live into the will of God? How might our cares, anxieties, and fears be relieved by such an encounter?

The next time we have a clear night sky at our disposal, take a walk. Or, at least go out on the porch and look up. Consider, along with the psalmist, the heavens, the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars that have been set in their courses.  (cf. Psalm 8).

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  (Psalm 8:9)

The Ghent Altarpiece - St. John the Baptist (detail)
between 1425 and 1429
Jan van Eyck

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