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Wednesday, January 4, 2017
As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore be led to thee.
As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to thy lowly bed,
there to bend the knee before
thee, whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek thy mercy seat.
William Chatterton Dix’s “As with Gladness Men of Old”
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
Close your eyes to envision the scenario: wise men—exhausted, hungry, and perhaps a tad uncertain—gazing skyward, following a brightly beaming light that would navigate them with holy certainty towards the humble stable where our Savior, Jesus, was to be born.
That’s a lovely image—powerful, mighty, and certain.
But let’s be honest: in our daily lives we’re more often—and all too easily—satisfied with a light that appears to us (with our limited vision) to be only a flicker. Rather than beckoning with a 500-watt luminescence, the light we settle for more likely resembles that provided by a lifetime-limited Bic lighter (remember those?).
But reflecting on the light that I imagine evoked indescribable joy in the wise men, I believe with all of my being that it burns mightily, comforts daily, and will endure forever. But I have to remember to look up, just like the wise men. “Looking up” includes being watchful for the places to which God calls me despite deadlines, distractions, and the divisions that so plague our world.
When God’s brilliant light appears to me as a flashlight, rather than a bursting beam, it’s because I’ve failed to pay attention to what really matters: to Jesus, who guides me through life’s every challenge . . . no map, compass, or GPS required.
As we welcome the joy of Christmas, God, help us to remember always that the degree of the brilliance of the light we choose to see is exactly that—a choice; one of many choices that you set before us daily. What will we do with that light? We pray, Lord Jesus, that we use it to celebrate your birth and all that it signifies for humankind. Amen.
Written by Betsy Storm, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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