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The Coming of the Dawn

'Church' photo (c) 2004, Vincent Lim Show Chen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

[Editor's note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The reading for this post is Luke 1:68-79. Keep reading Bread Blog for more Advent reflections.]  

By Laura Nelson   

Last year, I had the privilege of helping my internship site plan a "Longest Night" service—a worship service in the heart of winter that offers a contemplative space during the holiday season. Set for the night before Winter Solstice, it was a great project for me to take on—because I don't like darkness. And, in Oregon, the darkness was lasting for 16 hours each day. Planning the Longest Night service helped me to lean into the wisdom that dark times can teach us: the blessing of cocooned rest, the creativity born of chaos, the reminder that we are not in charge of the rhythm of life.

But we also leaned into G-d's promises of dawn, of life abundant and healing for all. We remembered that, with the coming of Winter Solstice, the darkness was receding—dawn was again coming in our midst. Zechariah's song of praise reminds us of this. He is fully in the light of the dawn, which is a great reminder in the midst of Advent, darkness, winter. Dawn is here, is coming, will come again.

What I most love about this hymn is that it's communal. Zechariah doesn't sing about his dawn, his redemption, his G-d. It's about our G-d, our dawn, our redemption. In our interconnectedness, the dawn of a new birth is a blessing for everyone. And, in the darkness, we have each other.

Laura Nelson is master of divinity senior at the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

 

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