I am leaning as far as I dare over a stone-encircled lily pond. Despite the high afternoon sun over this arboretum, the water in the pond is nearly black. Black as night. Which makes the lilies -- bright accents of color, with their radiating petals -- reminiscent of stars.
So, bear with me. Flowers are a flawed replacement for celestial lights. But they’re more visually interesting than a pinpoint in an indigo sky. (That’s assuming I’m a good enough photographer to capture Venus, which I highly doubt.)
This is the last title Jesus gives himself in Scripture:
“I am… the bright Morning Star.” Rev. 22:16
It’s a beautiful name to end with. Considering how dark and disturbing the previous chapters are, it is a welcome relief to hear Jesus refer to himself as the star that precedes the dawn. The Greek word for this star is phosphorous. It reminds me of a time I rowed on a calm sea at night, watching the phosphorescence trailing behind the boat: it was lovely and utterly surprising in such a dark place.
And I think of the watchmen on the walls in Psalm 130, peering into the formless pre-dawn void, straining to see some glimmer of the morning.
I’ve been sensing the darkness pressing in, lately. The earth is groaning under weight of a pandemic and natural disasters. Morality is vanishing as quickly as a Nevada reservoir. The future looks grim. This gloom is also getting personal: loved ones are struggling with their health. I am increasingly aware of my own mortality.
I wonder how things – how I -- can end well.
Yet, here is Jesus, calling himself the Morning Star. It is the light that follows the night. But more than that:
as it mingles with the first rays of the morning, it seems to be so joyous, cheerful, exulting, bright, that nothing can be better adapted to remind us of Him who came to lead on eternal day. (Albert Barnes, 1834)
He is more than just a single point of illumination. He is the herald of the dawn, the advance scout of the coming day.
I have been looking too much at the pond, not enough at the lilies. Jesus gives us parables that talks about the unstoppable growth of his kingdom. Yes, the world grows darker. But the Lord is at work, preparing for the morning.
Our job is to work with him, to endure and have hope.
“Until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)
Jesus, there are times when we feel that the darkness is going to win the day. But you are the Morning Star! You have defeated death and have promised eternal life. Lift our hearts with this truth. Lift our eyes to you.
Reader: Tell me about the most dramatic dawn you’ve seen.