There’s a Light upon the mountains

Each Christmas our lectionary readings take us into familiar territory with its inherent danger of boredom and stagnation. Yet as I skimmed the oft-thumbed pages, two songs of my childhood emerged and merged within my imagination bringing a forth a new song of praise and wonder reflected in the liturgy for the day which should flow rhythmically between the speaking and singing:

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news;
Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness:
Our God reigns, our God reigns!

There’s a light upon the mountains,
and the day is at the spring,
When our eyes shall see the beauty
and the glory of the King;
Weary was our heart with waiting, and
the night-watch seemed so long,
But His triumph-day is breaking, and
we hail it with a song.

Our familiar readings are:

  • Isaiah 52:7-10 – the watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem shout in wonder the Good News of God’s return and eternal reign;
  • Psalm 98 – the new song of God’s salvation resounds through human hands and voices, as well as ocean roar and mountain rumble;
  • Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12) – the Son is introduced as the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being; as He who laid the earth’s foundations and will steadfastly endure;
  • John 1:1-14 – the true Light comes into the world – sometimes unwelcome, sometimes unwanted, sometimes unacknowledged – but unlimited and inextinguishable.

***

Through darkest night, with dimming sight,
and hearts in need of rest,
we have watched and we have waited
for Your day to dawn, O Rising Sun.

*the Advent Candle is lit*

Let the sea and everything in it roar;
Let the world and everyone on it shout and sing;
Let the rivers gurgle in delight;
Let the mountains rumble together for joy:
The Sun-maker has come to set the whole world right.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest heav’n adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the favored one.
Veil’d in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th’incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail! the heav’n born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!” 

O Hope-Bringer,
Inextinguishable and Eternal Son,
Sweetest Giver of Gifts,
who comes to us even while we sleep,
even while we are sinners,
with the Good News of God with and within us
no matter whether we have been bad or good;
like shepherds fresh from the fields,
and wise men weary from many months of travel,
we gather this day to worship and adore you.

O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

You are beautiful.
You are radiant.
You are marvellous to behold –
the shining Light of God’s glory,
the imprint of God’s being
on fragile human form,
cradled in human arms;
Emmanuel – God-with-us
that we might see the possibility
for peace and love and justice
to be borne in the midst of human hearts,
and human hurts, this day.

Kom buig nou in aanbidding
Kom buig nou in aanbidding
Kom buig nou in aanbidding
Voor Jesus die Heer

O Untiring, Unchanging One,
You started it all, laying the earth’s foundations,
crafting the stars in the sky,
knitting us together so carefully, so tenderly,
within a mother’s womb.
Sometimes we have been ignorant of Your great gifts.
Sometimes we have been ungrateful.
Sometimes we have been unfaithful.
Sometimes we have been unwelcoming.

*a moment of silence for confession*

Our Costly Treasure,
who took on our death that we might know life,
remind us this day that we are Your beloved children,
Sons and Daughters of the Most High God.
Show us how to welcome Your light
and walk upon the paths of peace
that the whole world might see Your grace,
Your victory,
and worship He-Who-Holds-Everything-Together.

Wozani Simdumise
Wozani Simdumise
Wozani Simdumise
U Krist’ inkosi

John 1:1-14 (The Message)
The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.

Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.

What came into existence was Life,

and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.

There once was a man, his name John,
sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light.
He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in.
John was not himself the Light;
he was there to show the way to the Light.

The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.

He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want him.

But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.

These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

*a reflection is offered*

O Come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the King of Angels:
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

True God, of true God,
Light of light eternal,
Lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father,
Begotten, not created:
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
“Glory to God
In the highest:”
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning.
Jesus, to thee be glory given:
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing:
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Once we were watchmen upon the walls,
longing and praying for Your coming, O Christ.
Now we are lights upon the mountain,
full of Your light,
for You are born
and Your Spirit blazes deep within.

Be with all in need of rest and restoration,
Comfort and consolation.
May our lives shine like candles in their darkness,
A beacon of hope in their brokenness,
this day, and forevermore.
Amen.

There’s a light upon the mountains,
and the day is at the spring,
When our eyes shall see the beauty
and the glory of the King;
Weary was our heart with waiting,
and the night-watch seemed so long,
But His triumph-day is breaking,
and we hail it with a song.

There’s a hush of expectation,
and a quiet in the air;
And the breath of God is moving
in the fervent breath of prayer;
For the suffering, dying Jesus
is the Christ upon the throne,
And the travail of our spirit
is the travail of His own.

He is breaking down the barriers,
He is casting up the way;
He is calling for His angels
to build up the gates of day;
But His angels here are human,
not the shining hosts above,
For the drum-beats of His army
are the heart-beats of our love.

Hark! we hear a distant music,
and it comes with fuller swell;
’Tis the triumph song of Jesus,
of our King Emmanuel;
Zion, go ye forth to meet Him,
and my soul, be swift to bring
All thy sweetest and thy dearest
for the triumph of our King.

 

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