A Stable Lamp is Lighted

A Stable Lamp is Lighted

December 23, 2012
Written by Daniel Hazard

Excerpt from Isaiah 9:2-7

"A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler…The Lord is determined to do all this."

Reflection by William C. Green

This poem by Richard Wilbur was written on Christmas Eve. It sums up Christ's life and inspired a song (click to see the music or listen to a sample at the publisher's website), for Advent and Christmas.  The song begins:

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

How much Wilbur says in a few words about Jesus and the significance of his birth! Following gospel accounts, it's all earth-centered not immaterial and simply spiritual. A stable-lamp, stars, stones, straw, barn, stall. Those images convey how the astonishing presence of God becomes known in what's altogether mundane.

Maybe more than anything else what we need is a reawakening of awe, something that stops us in our tracks, interrupts our usual thoughts, and inspires us to look again at what's right before us. We don't need to be looking at the Grand Canyon or listening to Handel's Messiah—though that's wonderful, too. We can look again at what is easily overlooked, maybe taken for granted because we're used to it and it no longer strikes us as marvelous. Maybe this is a feature of family life, or friends, maybe it's seeing that a neglected room in your house could become something you really enjoy, maybe it's noticing something at church you expect without appreciating, maybe it's acting as though every little thing you do matters. Maybe it's acting as though Jesus actually is our ruler and seeing what difference God is determined to make.


In the coming of Jesus may we find your royal power, God, in the stones and stars of life right now. Amen.

About the Author
William C. Green is Vice-President for Strategy and Development, Moral Courage Project, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the author of 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Generous Giving.

Join Tony Robinson on Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. EST on weekly web program Darkwood Brew, in their special Advent series based on Hark!

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