We are here again, decorating our tree, putting the finishing touches to it. For the last few days we have been using a symbol of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ as way of reflecting on some ancient texts, antiphons used before the Magnificat at Evening Prayer around this time of year. Today we have to put the star on the top and I need the ladder. Today’s antiphon is ‘O Morning Star’, or ‘O Dayspring’ as it is sometimes called.
O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Cf Malachi 4:2)
Stars shine at night, but around this time of year there is a bright star in the morning, called the Morning Star. This star lights up not the night, but tells of the promise of the new day. And with Jesus a new day dawns, a new day in God’s love for us.
The morning star is actually Venus, the brightest planet. It remains bright and beautiful in the first light of morning, as the ‘Morning Star’. Today it is in conjunction with Jupiter and Saturn, making a particularly spectacular sight. This star is one of the contenders for the magi’s star, a star that leads in hope and promise.
Astronomers have long looked in the skies with awe and wonder. It has brought with it reflection on our own place and the more we know about the vastness of the universe and the uniqueness of this planet, the greater the awe and wonder. The star on the tree is a moment to reflect, to be struck by planets in their motion and how we are dependent on the life and love of God.
On day 5, 21st December, we put the star on top of the tree in awe and wonder at God’s creation through his Word and redemption in Jesus Christ.
O Dayspring, O Morning Star,
dawning from the dwelling of God,
reveal the promise of the new day.
Bless us with the gift you hold before us
and keep us in your saving love.
Come to our salvation
Come, Lord Jesus.
Advent Antiphons from ‘Common Worship: Daily Prayer’ is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005.
Prayers taken from Ian Black ‘Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days’ (2005, SPCK)
Text of an Advent Reflection, streamed online for Peterborough Parish Church, 21st December 2020.