Home > Advent > December 21 – O Oriens

December 21 – O Oriens

O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

In the deep dark of human depravity, the Son dawns. Light bursts up and out from the tiny babe and radiates the warmth of uncreated love. The Son has come and nothing will ever be the same.

Every tiny detail of His life illuminates the human heart with a love supreme. From His miraculous birth to His hidden childhood, from His impassioned preaching and healing ministry to His death, burial and resurrection, the Son reveals the beauty of the Lord.

This light shining and overcoming darkness is the standard of all that is beautiful. Without light, no beauty. Without light, nothing. Without light, formlessness and void. Light reveals shape, color, harmony, as well as the lack of shape, color and harmony.

Light exposes and defines all things. Thus light creates and reveals the distinction of each particular thing but it also integrates all particular things into a harmonious whole. Thus moving away from the light, the soul dis-integrates, stumbling into nothingness and chaos.

We were created for the light of His glory and in the deepest recesses of our hearts we long to behold His beauty. Like the psalmist we cry, “Whom have I in heaven but you O Lord, and to be near you, I desire nothing on earth.”

His beauty satisfies a hunger that cannot be fed outside Him. “One thing I have asked of the Lord, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalms 27:4)

The longing to behold the babe in the manger reveals the ever-longing heart’s desire to catch a glimpse of the beauty of the Lord. It is the beauty of the Lord that converts the soul: not morality lessons. It is the beauty of the Lord that transforms the mind: not rational discourse. It is the beauty of the Lord that calls us and strengthens us to love and be loved in return.

We may build a tower of words that give us some sense of mastery and control in this world, but deep inside we long for more: we long for the beauty of the Lord. Beauty converted the great saints of old. Augustine beheld a love beyond love and his soul found a rest beyond rests, so that he could utter, “My heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”

Thomas Aquinas spent a lifetime defending the faith. With brilliant erudition, He argued line upon line for the canons of the church. His voluminous writings established a way and thinking and responding to all the world. And yet, this genius of a man beheld just a glimpse of the glory of God, and he was speechless.

He uttered, “I’ve seen the Lord, and all that I’ve written is but dust.” So enraptured by the beauty of the Lord, this gentle giant quit writing and could only stare into the stunning wonder God’s love until he left this earth.

Jonathan Edwards, the great American philosopher, says the beauty of the Lord led him to repentance. It was the beauty of the Lord that captured His heart and broke his heart at the same time. In the majesty and splendor of Jesus’ love, we become aware of how desperately disintegrated and damaged we are by the ugliness of evil.

When Luther cries that he is a mere bag of bones, it simply because he has seen a glory that exceeds any beauty the heart could imagine and he is left to acknowledge his own deep deficiencies.

When we are blind, we simply have no grasp of the reality and repercussions of our deeds. But in the light of His love, we begin to realize the damage we have done and continue to do. Like ripples in a pond, our actions set in motion a chain of actions.

We honk at another person on the highway who happens to be having stressful day already. The honk irritates them and further worsens their mood, so that they are impatient and unkind to the clerk at the drive-in window. She has been having a bad day because of the impatient anger of every customer, combined with the problems of her own life. In her tears, she argues with the manager and then goes home early. And on and on the rippling effects of small offenses continue tear at the very heart of this world.

In a world that perpetuates pain, we long for healing and wholeness. We long to behold the beauty of the Lord. The beauty of His holiness binds up the broken-hearted and the broken world. The beauty of His holiness transforms us, creating ripples of love and harmony.

In the dark before Christmas, may we stretch toward the light, crying out for a vision of the Beautiful One. This is not simply an apparition or some earthly vision of the Lord, but rather it is the inward light of Jesus’ glory revealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. As his beauty and glory shines into our hearts, our eye is filled with light and all we see is light. Then the wonder of this world returns, and everywhere we turn, we catch but a glimpse of His unfolding glory all around us.

And in joyous we wonder we sing, “O come let us adore Him.”

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