December 19, 2011

Dec. 19: His glory is above earth and heaven


By Justin Yoder, a junior music and interdisciplinary double major from Perkasie, Pa.

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.



Comments (35)

  1. Thank you, Justin ~ beautiful imagery, thoughtful lesson, touching personal reflection ~ Claudia, a star watcher in California

    Claudia December 19, 2011 |
  2. Thank you for this meditation. I am touched by your poetic ability to see the holiness in your grandfather’s last days.

    Ann Hostetler December 19, 2011 |
  3. Beautiful, and SO beautifully written. Thank you. I will keep this one.

    a thompson December 19, 2011 |
  4. Justin, there is a symmetry and flow to your words. The poem is lovely but you, as a skilled arranger have set them beautifully. As a musician I could imagine the rise and fall of the musical line. I sense a fine spirit in you. Thank you for sharing your gift.

    Mark Parsons December 19, 2011 |
  5. Thank you, Justin. Your thoughts are beautifully woven together.

    Betty December 19, 2011 |
  6. Your comments (Dec. 19) were extraordinarily beautiful and inspiring. I cherish images of light and laughter at this dark time of year, and the quotation from Weems captured that perfectly. Keep on writing!!

    Dorothy Cutrell December 19, 2011 |
  7. Justin,
    What a beautiful way to begin a Monday morning! Thank you for sharing your precious and personal reflections of your grandfather’s life and passing.
    Ruth Yoder (Amanda’s Grammy)

    Ruth Yoder December 19, 2011 |
  8. Nicely, Nicely done. Thank you.

    Melissa Burton December 19, 2011 |
  9. Thanks Justin, for starting my week with these hopeful words.

    Tim Stair December 19, 2011 |
  10. God laughing…. how wonderful! Too many times we seem to portray God as a serious judge forgetting that God himself created laughter. Thank you I needed that reminder today.

    Betty December 19, 2011 |
  11. Thank you, Justin. What a beautiful meditation on death and the new day. Your grandfather sailed across on splendid wings, articulating our problems and needs. May he pray for us; and may I die like him when my time comes.
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet December 19, 2011 |
  12. Thank you for sharing in this way –
    may it be so!

    Dale December 19, 2011 |
  13. What a nice surprise this morning when I saw that Justin Yoder was the person who wrote the devotional. I knew his Grandpa, a wonderful man and I know his Grandma also. Last evening we were at a most wonderful concert at Landis Homes where Justin, his parents and aunt provided a great musical concert. The Ranck Family are gifted musicians and we had a worshipful evening. We appreciate Justin’s Grandma, Kathleen. Thanks for sharing your gifts, and your thoughts. Justin. Barbara Lomgenecker

    Charles Longenecker December 19, 2011 |
  14. Justin, Thank-you for sharing including grandfather’s words, spoken during the last days of his life. What an amazing gift for you and your family, which you have now shared with all of us!

    Ruth De Peazer December 19, 2011 |
  15. Justin,
    Your reflection really captured both the joyful hope and the longing of the advent season. I really appreciate the inclusion of the part about waiting in darkness. Thank you for the poetry – it brought forth great images in my mind and was beautifully written. Thank you for your grandfather’s story- it helped bring a fresh reality of what advent means.

    Ellen m December 19, 2011 |
  16. Wow! Thank you, Justin. Inspiring message, beautifully written.

    Bill Hughes December 19, 2011 |
  17. Thank you, Justin, for your deep reflection, for sharing about your Grandpa, and especially for the poem.

    Shana Peachey Boshart December 19, 2011 |
  18. Thank you, Justin, for sharing your experience of the past months and for the poem.

    Dawn Ruth Nelson December 19, 2011 |
  19. Justin, the best I can do is a big AMEN to Charles Longenecker’s comment. Thanks for the insight and warm comments about your grandfather and our dear friend Don

    Paul Burkholder December 19, 2011 |
  20. beautiful devotional! thank you for your thoughts and that great poem.

    Heather Wiens December 19, 2011 |
  21. Justin, this was the most beautifully moving devotion of the season, thank you!

    Judy Sherk December 19, 2011 |
  22. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, and for an introduction to Ann Weems’ wonderful poem. Both were very meaningful in my 2011 advent journey.

    DeeDee Barnes Bruns December 19, 2011 |
  23. Bless you for seeing the positives of your grandpa’s passing. It can be difficult no matter how prepared you think you are.

    Jan Andrews December 19, 2011 |
  24. Very thoughtful, inciteful and uplifting. Thank you

    MJCreason December 19, 2011 |
  25. Thank you for the image of your grandfather’s last days glowing with the glory of God! May it be so for us all.

    Heidi Siemens-Rhodes December 19, 2011 |
  26. Thank you, Justin, for sharing about your grandfather
    and also the lovely poem.

    Loretta Yoder Ostojic December 19, 2011 |
  27. Thanks for the advent thoughts, and thanks for singing for us at Landis Homes last evening. I love to hear you sing. I knew your Grandpa, and it was great to read your comments about his last times.

    Martha Nissley December 19, 2011 |
  28. What an uplifting reading all that was. I think you have a gift that can really up lift others. Even in your singing. Thank you for lifting up my spirit this Christmas Season.

    Liz Lehman December 19, 2011 |
  29. Yes! Justin, What a gift you have received and freely given. Hope is alive and very much with us.

    Vicki Joy December 20, 2011 |
  30. This week’s theme may be, “His glory is above earth and heaven,” but I think your devotional shows that His glory is also in earth and heaven. It’s all around us – in your grandfather, for instance. Thank you for this devotional!

    Elizabeth S.O. December 20, 2011 |
  31. your message moved me; the wonder of God’s power, mystery and faithfulness, the reality of a kingdom and its host we cannot (usually) see, and the blessing of the permanence of the Living Word in us, even when our minds become jumbled. Thanks!

    Diana Thomas December 20, 2011 |
  32. Powerful words Justin. Thank you for sharing such beautiful insights. Peace to you and your family as you remember your wonderful grandfather during this Christmas holiday.

    Brenda Shelly December 20, 2011 |
  33. Excellent reflection, Justin! You have a gift.

    Ben Wideman December 21, 2011 |
  34. Amen to all of the above! I am always inspired by what the wonderful young people of Goshen have written, and Justin’s reflection is a particularly sensitive and insightful contribution. Thank you so much.

    Anne Carey December 21, 2011 |
  35. Thanks for sharing your your personal experience. I always enjoy Ann Weems poetry!

    Letha Ressler '71 from CA December 21, 2011 |