THIS WEEK’S THEME: His glory is above earth and heaven
“I wonder if God comes to the edge of heaven each Advent
and flings the Star into the December sky,
laughing with joy as it lights the darkness of the earth;
and the angels, hearing the laughter of God,
begin to congregate in some celestial chamber
to practice their alleluias.”
So muses writer Ann Weems in the opening lines of her advent poem, “This Year.” I love the striking image the poet’s words evoke: a brilliant star startles the dark sky as divine laughter sets all the angels abuzz; God’s glory radiates throughout heaven and earth.
Our Scripture texts this week bear witness to this radiant glory of the God who saves and redeems, who comes to dwell among us, whose name is praised from all corners of the earth. But these verses also tell of longing and anticipation. The people who walked in darkness have yearned for the great light. The gray-haired Simeon and Anna have waited all their lives for the Child to be born. As the glorious light of Christ’s nativity shines brightly this week, we hear in these verses the stubborn hope of those still waiting under starless skies.
Many of us know all too well what it is to walk in darkness. After a sudden decline into the final stages of dementia, my 84-year-old grandfather passed away early last month. His final weeks brought dark moments, as spells of delirium thrust him into frightening realms of his imagination. But there was something else in those last days. Not usually one to boldly announce his quiet faith, Grandpa could be heard reciting hymns and offering spontaneous prayers of thanksgiving, praise and hope. In the week leading up to his departure, he spoke of a new day dawning on earth that would bring healing to racial conflict, mercy to immigrants, release for prisoners and medicine for the sick. Grandpa’s last days glowed with the light of God’s glory anticipated and revealed, a light shining brightly in heaven and on earth.
In her poem, Ann Weems imagines the angels’ response to the brilliant display of God’s glory each Advent. Perhaps when the star appears, she concludes, perhaps the angels all come.
“Perhaps they come,
winging through the winds of time
full of expectancy
full of hope
that this year
perhaps this year
the earth will fall to its knees
in a whisper of ‘Peace.’”
With Simeon and Anna and all souls who have walked in darkness, on earth and in heaven, we too lift our hopeful eyes to behold the star. May it be so.