Thursday, July 19, 2007
MORNING HAS BROKEN
And there was evening and there was morning -- the first day. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love. Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice, morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. As morning breaks, I look to you O God, to be my strength this day.
His anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like-calves released from the stall.
And the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala went to the tomb and saw the stone had been removed from the entrance.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?' 'No,' they answered. He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish... Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.'
(Genesis 1: 5, NIV; Psalm 57: 8, NIV; Psalm 59: 16, NIV; Psalm 5: 3, NIV; Psalm 30: 5, NIV; Lamentations 3: 22-23, RSV; Malachi 4: 2, NIV; Luke 1: 78-79, RSV; Mark 1: 35, NIV; John 20: 1, NW; John 21: 4-6,12, NIV)
A friend in the midst of a black-as-night depression once sent me a Christmas card from a psychiatric hospital. It was inscribed with the words, 'the sun of righteousness shall dawn upon you with healing in his wings.' It was these words, she said, that had kept her going. We need to know that tears will run their course, even when etched deep into our cheeks, and that each morning is another chance, an opportunity to get up and dance or at least take one hesitant step forward. The resurrection is the assurance that there will be a morning of rejoicing and healing.
Morning is the time to greet the day, to receive our lives afresh again, direct from God's hand. It is the time to arise and pray, not as a way of earning our way into God's good books, or because evangelical tradition decrees so, but as a way of receiving the day as sheer grace, and not taking it for granted. It is to recognise the wonder of it all, that we are alive and awake, not still asleep, dead or non-existent as we could quite easily be. From the womb of the morning, of the resurrection morning, we are brought to birth and new birth, day after day.
We can then face each day as an act of daring, of defying death and depression, of rising to new life with Christ. We can face it even when worn out after a night of heavy and fruitless fishing, worn out by the work of the kingdom. We can face it utterly dependent on the risen Jesus, standing on the shore, giving us courage to lower our nets once more, listening for a word to show us the way to abundant and fruitful ministry and mission. But above all, any considerations of ministry or mission productivity aside, he is the one who invites us to breakfast with him. Let's join him.
Morning has broken
ike the first morning
blackbird has spoken
like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
praise for the morning,
praise for them, springing
fresh from the word...
Mine is the sunlight;
mine is the morning
born of the one light
Eden saw play
Praise with elation
praise every morning
of the new day.
Eleanor Farjeon, 'Morning Has Broken'
Beloved, it is morn! A redder berry on the thorn, A deeper yellow on the corn, For this good day new-born: Pray, Sweet, for me That I may be Faithful to God and thee
Emily Henrietta Hickey, 'Beloved, it is Morn'
The day does now dark night dispel;
Dear Christians, wake and rouse you well,
Give glory to our God and Lord
Once more the daylight shines abroad,
O brethren let us praise the Lord,
Whose grace and mercy thus
have kept The nightly watch
while we have slept
We offer up ourselves to thee,
That heart and word and deed may be
In all things guided by thy mind
And in thine eyes acceptance find.
'Ere yet the dawn hath filled the skies
Behold my Saviour Christ arise.
He chaseth from us sin and night,
And brings us joy and life and light. Hallelujah!
What do we today, who no longer have any fear or awe of night, know of the great joy that our forefathers and the early Christians felt every morning at the return of light? If we were to learn again something of the praise and adoration that is due the triune God at break of day, God the Father and Creator, who has preserved our life through the dark night and wakened us to a new day, God the Son and Saviour, who conquered death and hell for us, and dwells in our midst as Victor, God the Holy Spirit, who pours the bright gleam of God's Word into our hearts at the dawn of day, driving away all darkness and sin and teaching us to pray aright -- then we would also begin to sense something of the joy that comes when night is past and brethren who dwell together in unity come together early in the morning for common praise of their God, common hearing of the Word and common prayer. Morning does not belong to the individual, it belongs to the Church, to the Christian family, to the brotherhood...
For Christians, the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day's work. At the threshold of the new day stands the Lord who made it. All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night retreat before the clear light of Jesus Christ and his wakening Word. All unrest, all impurity, all care and anxiety flee before him.
Therefore, at the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him to whom our life belongs. 'Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light' (Eph 5: 14).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
I wake up, rested, jump out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, and rush out the door to get things started. The first thing I discover (a great blow to the ego) is that everything was started hours ago. All the important things got underway while I was fast asleep. When I dash into the workday, I walk into an operation that is half over already. I enter into work in which the basic plan is already established, the assignments given, the operations in motion.
Sometimes, still in a stupor, I blunder into the middle of something that is nearly done and go to work thinking I am starting it. But when I do, I interfere with what has already been accomplished. My sincere intentions and cheerful whistle while I work make it no less a blunder and an aggravation. The sensible thing is to ask, 'Where do I fit? Where do you need an extra hand? What still needs to be done?'
The Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work... We wake and are called out to participate in God's creative action. We respond in faith, in work. We wake into a world we didn't make, into a salvation we didn't earn.
Eugene H. Peterson, 'The Pastor's Sabbath'
. . .As earth waits patiently for sun's warmth, so must my soul, expectant, wait in silent, unseeing trust. Only if Love wills shall his finger find me and piercing darkness, bind me.
Merle Davis, 'Morning Prayer'
Lord, you have already passed this way, And laid in wait the coming day. The tassels of your robe have brushed The dust away. And though the storms you have not hushed Nor spared the troubles, Yours is a wondrous strategy.
Help me to see The people placed in awkward corners By your grace, The kindly loan, The warmth of voice on the telephone, The love in each new smiling face.
Help me then to throw to you beyond the wall, The ball of each new day; For only then can I unfettered, child-like play, As through time I go.
Pauline Young, 'A Prayer'
Creating God, as the curtain of night is drawn back, and the golden robes of the day arrive over sea and mountain, expel from our minds all sour thoughts, that we may greet this new day as a gift fresh from the hands of creation, and filled with hope, and bright with gladness, and glorify the One who makes all things new: Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As the fieldlark rises at daybreak to offer its praise high above wheatfields, trees and farmhouses: So may we, in this hour of awakening, let our gratitude ascend to you O Lord Most High.
God of the inner light, come to us on the golden rays of the morning, warming moods that are frosty; enlightening minds that are gloomy; and, as the sun swings higher, so may our lives rise to you in the active praise of this day's duties: through Jesus, our risen Light.
Spirit of new life, grant unto us this day the grace to recognise new life breaking through in unlikely events; and, in so recognising it, to be ready to trust it and delight in it: through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Bruce Prewer, Australian Prayers
May the God who makes each morning like creation's first morning, give us grace to greet every day in the light of the Resurrection morning, to grasp its unique opportunity with eager hands, to experience it as gift and calling before demand, and so to pass it on as a gift to others.
Rowland Croucher ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys, Albatross/Lion, chapter 26.
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