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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Watchman, tell us of the night,
what its signs of promise are.
Traveler, what a wondrous sight:
see that glory-beaming star.
Watchman, does its beauteous ray
news of joy or hope foretell?
Traveler, yes; it brings the day,
promised day of Israel.

Watchman, tell us of the night;
higher yet that star ascends.
Traveler, blessedness and light,
peace and truth its course portends.
Watchman, will its beams alone
gild the spot that gave them birth?
Traveler, ages are its own;
see, it bursts o’er all the earth.

Watchman, tell us of the night,
for the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, shadows take their flight;
doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, you may go your way;
hasten to your quiet home.
Traveler, we rejoice today,
for Emmanuel has come!

John Bowring’s “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night”
(tune: Aberystwyth)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Emmanuel has come! What a gift it would be to see signs and know that they foretell God’s arrival. As people of faith born after Christ’s birth, steeped in Mark’s story of wise men and a star, it does not seem difficult to grasp.

Imagine, however, that you’ve never heard about Jesus, let alone Mary, Joseph, or John the Baptist. You’re out in the darkness, scared. You and a stranger meet on your respective journeys. Instead of fearing one another, you both notice a beautiful light that removes the shadows over all the earth. You are not afraid; together you rejoice, because you are calm and confident—joy, peace, and truth are here.

Dear God, help me to recognize the light in the stranger as I travel on my journey. Help me to not fear the night, but to know that feelings of joy, peace, and truth mean that Emmanuel has come. The signs were always there. Amen.

Written by Maggie Lewis, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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