Herrenhuter readings for Monday, the 22nd December 2014

Day_and_Night_Seph_the_ZethThe day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. (Psalm 74,16) For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. (Romans 13:11-12) 

That’s the rhythm of our world. Day and night alternate in absolute precision and regularity. Darkness and light take their turns. Our lives are determined by it. Sleeping and waking have their time and place. Its the framework of our being. Work and rest, tension and relaxation, doing and letting go, taking up our task and saying farewell is part of our routine. And isn’t it wonderful too? Getting up at dawn and seeing the first rays of sunlight illuminating the old trees? Seeing the sun set in the west and settling down for another lovely evening in the capital? Even the traffic sounds rather energised early in the morning when everything is rearing to get going, whereas in the evening it’s just finishing off and getting to the final destination, to shut off and down.

We’re not in control of this rhythmic life’s beat, we’re just partaking in in. It’s God’s breath in us, that keeps us going throughout and whenever he prevents and stops it, we are left breath- and lifeless. It is he, who keeps the world turning round and granting us space and time to go about our business at his calling, discretion and bidding. It’s him, who has implanted this cantus firmus into the very fabric of our life. Even if as infants our sleep at night was somewhat longer and as adults we’ve gotten used to keeping awake most of the night too, we can’t escape this rhythm for too long without taking damage and hurting bad. Obviously you can turn the night into day and it’s one of those privileges which adolescents and teenagers enjoy most. It gives them the feeling of being independent and being able to do their own thing. Yet even young and pumped up youths must catch up on sleep now and again. It’s just part of us and who we are. Insomnia is a serious ill and dampens the quality of life severely. Yet, we can now that be it night or day, be it the moon or the sun shining, it’s the Lord, who holds the earth and our lives – day in day out. It’s him, who wakes without slumbering and it is he, who grants us a restful break to recover and a new morning to start anew and afresh.

Even as days and nights roll on, the seasons change, the nights now after the equinox becoming longer and the days shorter for us in the south, we realise that another year has passed and our life’s candle has burnt down another unretrievable part, which we can’t replace or compensate by stretching our leftovers. It just doesn’t work that way. Our life is diminishing and the ever revolving hourglass continues to run out – ceaselessly. Even when we try most desperately to stop the train and enjoy the fleeting moment some more with our most beloved – our lives move on and we’re obligated to move along, keep going and move continuously towards the final goal and destination – our death and resurrection to eternal life.

Poor people, who only have seventy or eighty years to tick-off their bucket list here on earth. They are driven by the most relentless slave driver – the ticking clock marking time and their final demise. The great prophet Moses already knew, that even 8 decades of human life are but short and filled with toil and trouble all the way. And Saint Augustine, who had more than a fair share of carousing under the youthful compulsion to live a full-filled, meaningful and happy life later on confessed: “My soul is restless in me until it finds rest in you, o God!” You see, we are created in this way. It’s part of our human setup and innermost complexion – that we only come to completion and fulfilment when and where we are joined up, affixed and united with our alter-ego – God himself. Without this divine unity we are restless, hopeless and empty really. Off course we try to fill the void with all sorts of stuff, pets and desires, but that’s just a vain and rather desperate endeavour. Expecting even of those, who are most dear to us to fill this void, which they never can, just because they’re not God. Disappointment is inevitable. Disillusionment just a question of time. At the end all and everyone will have to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Lord alone – and it is he alone whom we should worship and adore, obey and follow, hope in and expect life from.

Thank God, that he has entered our life and world through Jesus Christ our Lord. Now we are no longer on that hopeless quest to find a meaning and fulfilment of our lives, while experiencing the harrowing and desperate slipping away of one hour after the other without us being able to even add just one minute (never mind a day!) to our fleeting lives – that’s just running through our fingers – unstoppable and intimidating really.

In Jesus Christ, we know that our own and sinful life is doomed, its finished and just going on for some limited period still. Yet since our baptism it’s past and history. No longer the determining paradigm of our existence. Rather Christ now lives in us. We’re his new creation and sharing in his resurrected life, which will not end anymore. He’s come into this world in the middle of the night and has let his light shine to dispel all darkness.  He’s the true morning star and the very sun of our lives – the centre and expanse, the be all and end all. Having him, we don’t ask for heaven and earth anymore. In him our hearts are at rest and peace. He’s our salvation – and he’s coming again to release us from all pent-up anxieties and hopeless desires still clinging to our old being – freeing us to be finally what we have here believed and hoped for – saved, redeemed and enjoying life unimpeded, perfect and fulfilled eternally and without end.

Don’t get impatient. It’s today nearer than ever before. Just as he came truly and in the flesh there in Bethlehem. So too will he come surely and visible for all to see in his glory – to complete and finish off his godly mission once and for all. Amen.

“Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”
by James Montgomery, 1771-1854

1. Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
To set the captive free,
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.

2. He comes with succor speedy
To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy
And bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing,
Their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying,
Were precious in His sight.

3. He shall come down like showers
Upon the fruitful earth,
And joy and hope, like flowers,
Spring in His path to birth.
Before Him on the mountains
Shall peace, the herald, go
And righteousness, in fountains,
From hill to valley flow.

4. Arabia’s desert ranger
To Him shall bow the knee,
The Ethiopian stranger
His glory come to see;
With offerings of devotion
Ships from the isles shall meet
To pour the wealth of ocean
In tribute at His feet.

5. Kings shall bow down before Him
And gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore Him,
His praise all peoples sing;
To Him shall prayer unceasing
And daily vows ascend,
His kingdom still increasing,
A kingdom without end.

6. O’er every foe victorious,
He on His throne shall rest,
From age to age more glorious,
All blessing and all-blest.
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever, —
That name to us is Love.

The Lutheran Hymnal Hymn #59 on  Text: Ps. 72
Author: James Montgomery, 1821
Composer: Leonhart Schroeter, 1587
Tune: “Freut euch, ihr lieben

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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