Waiting With Faith
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.
A few years ago, a powerful hurricane put my city, my neighborhood, and my house in the dark for nights on end. No streetlights. No traffic lights. No glowing digits on my bedside clock; no porch light for safety on the front steps.
Except for hurricanes, we seldom wait for light in our modern cities. Today, with the flip of a switch (or the flick of a flashlight app), we can dispel physical darkness.
It wasn’t always so. Centuries ago, the night was irrevocable and unresponsive to man’s whims. We could plead for the dawn, but we could not demand it. We could wait, but could not hurry the heavens even one iota. The darkness had to be dealt with and endured with little more than an oil lamp.
The beautiful prayer of Zechariah at the baptism of his son John celebrates the coming of light in the hearing of a people well acquainted with the dark. Not only did they understand the unforgiving rhythms of daylight and darkness, they had waited in spiritual night for hundreds of years, yearning for a word from their God.
Dawn is never more precious, more desired, more welcome than just before it breaks.
Each day after the hurricane, my neighbors and I would ask one another, “Do you have power yet?” We watched for public utility trucks on nearby blocks. We phoned the light company service number, now on speed dial. We became flashlight bearers and candle hoarders. And we waited.
When the light finally came, we were ready. The formerly dark windows up and down my street were lit from within again when evening came, and the moon and the stars had tiny, terrestrial competition once more.
Zechariah’s son John proclaimed the coming light of the Son of God—the One who would shine on Israel’s long darkness and overpower the shadow of death for Jew and Gentile alike. We need his light too. We may be able to command enough luminosity to put a dent in the curtain of night—but we cannot dispel sin and death. Only Christ can. And by the tender mercy of our God, he has.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Have you seen Christmas lights in your area yet this year? Have you hung them in your house or outside your house? How might Christmas lights help you think about the coming light of Christ?
Light of the World, we need your brilliance and your power. We long for you to shine on us and illumine every corner of our lives. You are the Living One. You are the Way. You alone are the author of salvation, and the forgiver of our sins. Let us wait for you and bless you for the brightness of hope you bring with the dawn of each new day. Amen.
READ THE PASSAGE IN CONTEXT:
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
“And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”