O Lord, How Shall I Meet You (ELW 241, st. 4)
4 Rejoice, then, you sad-hearted, who sit in deepest gloom,
who mourn your joys departed and tremble at your doom.
All hail the Lord’s appearing! O glorious Sun, now come,
send forth your beams so cheering and guide us safely home.
The two halves of the last stanza of our Advent theme hymn are literally as different as day and night—they play compellingly with the contrasting images of darkness and light, which are so often a part of the gospel story of Jesus’ birth and ministry. The first half speaks from a perspective of anxiety, fear, and a loss of hope. We hear a litany of sadness, gloom, mourning, departed joy, and trembling doom.
And then suddenly, with seemingly no transition, there is a great transformation of mood. We hear of the Lord appearing like the rising of a glorious sun. The beams of that rising Son now surround us with light, reaching out to scatter our darkness and guide us safely like a cosmic cheerleader to our home. And though it may be Christmas and about a birth, already in the mention of a “rising” sun, we have been pointed to the coming joys of Easter morning.
God of the sunrise, fill us with the good news and joy of your appearance in the gift of Jesus, your Son. May we indeed rejoice in this season that he has come to guide us safely to our home with you. Amen.