Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58.8)It is surely no coincidence that this antiphon was appointed to be sung at evensong on 21st December. What better day than the winter solstice to focus on the image of Christ as the rising sun? As the natural sun is setting on the shortest day of the year, the Sun of righteousness, who will never diminish, is proclaimed.
for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. (Malachi 4.2)
The message today is the end of darkness, the end of shadow, the end of death. The Messiah, the Sun of Righteousness, the Second Person of the Trinity who is truly ‘Light from Light’ has dispelled them all.
Those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death are not just a group of outsiders. There are many dark shadows in our own souls. With this prayer we invite the Sun to illuminate even those recesses, to leave us no place to hide from Him in the damp and chill of selfishness.
First light and then first lines along the east
To touch and brush a sheen of light on water
As though behind the sky itself they traced
The shift and shimmer of another river
Flowing unbidden from its hidden source;
The Day-Spring, the eternal Prima Vera.
Blake saw it too. Dante and Beatrice
Are bathing in it now, away upstream…
So every trace of light begins a grace
In me, a beckoning. The smallest gleam
Is somehow a beginning and a calling;
“Sleeper awake, the darkness was a dream
For you will see the Dayspring at your waking,
Beyond your long last line the dawn is breaking”