Dawn from on high

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

For the past few years, the Church of England’s Morning Prayer (Daily Office) had been my companion at the start of the day. Of course there were weeks (and even months) of me falling out of the habit of praying these words. Also, the way I prayed them changed over time from saying them out loud, to reading them quietly, joining a vicar in the UK in their facebook recording and making use of the audio that the Daily Prayer app (& it’s accompanying podcast) started to provide.

My highlight though has stayed the same: The Benedictus (The Song of Zechariah), which concludes each morning’s prayer time. I have said these words so often, that I know them by heart. I find them deeply touching and so very poetic. I never realy anasyled this text, yet almost each time I visit it, a phrase speaks to me.

So, how about me walking through these verses and recording what thoughts come up? You will have your very own associations, but here are my reactions to the Song of Zechariah

Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, 
who has come to his people and set them free.

Zachariah sung/ prayed these words after his child John was born. Isn’t it incredible that I get to join in his prayer, and in the prayer of all the generations after him, who said these words? This makes me feel held and safe. I, too, am part of “his people” that are set free. Those who have gone before me put their hope into “being set free” and on the days that I can’t believe in this freedom myself, I let myself be held by my sisters and brothers through the millenia.

He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour, 
born of the house of his servant David.

Christmas was and is the most meaningful time of the (church) year for me. I love how the Divine became one of us, how this ‘mighty Saviour’ was born into a real family, by a real mother. The incarnation is mind-blowing… Mind-blowing in the most exciting, yet down-to-earth way possible!

Through his holy prophets God promised of old 
to save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all that hate us,

Just as I draw on the faith of those who have prayed this text before me, Zachariah leans on the women and men of God who lived even before he was born.
I’m still wondering what enemies he refers to though. Does he mean only the Roman occupation he and his contemporaries endured? Or do his words transcend time & place?
If so, then I too can hope & look for God saving me from my enemies! What are those on this very day on which I pray these words? …
“Through his holy prophets God promised of old 
to save me from short-temperedness, harsh self-talk and exaggerated expectations,
from the grip of all that hate me.”

To show mercy to our ancestors, 
and to remember his holy covenant.

Here I’m not only feeling the connection to all the former people of faith, but specifically to my own ancestors. I remember the stories of my God-fearing relatives, who didn’t have an easy life during the socialist time of former East Germany and how God & community carried them through these harsh times. I remember stories of my non-Christian ancestors, who were evicted from their homes in Silesia and became refugees. And their lives, too, were touched by divine redemption.

This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham: 
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

The theme of freedom and salvation really did weigh on Zachariah’s heart, didn’t it?

Free to worship him without fear, 
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.

Here are perfect words for the start into a new day, a day lived as an act of worship, not matter it’s tasks. A day free from fear, a day that, in God’s eyes, has great potential. A day filled with the divine spark, a day in which I may be ‘holy and righteous’.
(Two words that I have given up on grasping with my brain, but that evoke some sort of beautiful gut reaction and inner attitude shift, that is hard, if not impossible, to explain here in words.)

And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, 
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

Can you, too, picture Zachariah cuddling his tiny baby, gazing into his deep newborn eyes or rubbing his nose gently rubbing his smooth cheeks? Already in these early days this new dad can feel the promise and potential that this new life holds.
Maybe I, too, can go and prepare God’s way in my little world today.
May I notice the moments when I can open a door for the Divine to fill my world and the air around those I encounter.

To give his people knowledge of salvation 
by the forgiveness of all their sins.

“Holy”, “Righteous”, “Prepare the Way”… this feels like a high calling! How reassuring then, that there is no expectation of me being perfect all by myself. There is forgiveness and salvation available, even when I stand in my own way.
What exactly this looks like is, again, nothing I can wrap my head around or find adequate words for. ‘Forgiveness’ I pursue & experience, rather than understand.

In the tender compassion of our God 
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

And now we get to my favourite part – the last couple of verses!
I can almost feel the ‘tender compassion’ of God wrapping around me, and before my inner eye the ‘dawn from on high’ lights everything up with its golden rays of morning light.

What beautiful words!

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, 
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

I feel the ‘dawn from on high’ touching even my darkest corners and see them reaching all those people near and far, who’s lives are rough.
As I walk out into the day, I trust in God’s guidance and long for being a peacemaker. But again, this is a phrase that means so much more to me than I can explain whilst typing at my keyboard.

The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.

Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.

We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.

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