URC Daily Devotion 8th December 2020

Tuesday 8th December

Thou Whose Almighty Word

In the northern hemisphere Advent is a dark time of the year and can often be dark emotionally as we remember those no longer with us.  Our hymn, written by John Marriott, plays with the idea of light – ironic since he died at a young age from a degenerative condition meaning he experienced the encircling gloom of illness.   The author, John Marriott, based his poem on Genesis 1:3  And God said ‘Let there be light‘ and there was light’. He never saw his words published or set to music as a hymn, but they were quoted, 6 weeks after he died, by Thomas Mortimer when addressing a meeting of the London Missionary Society in Great Queen Street Chapel, London in 1825.  In the last 120 years there has been no Protestant hymn book which has failed to include it (From the companions to Congregational Praise and Rejoice and Sing)

Thou Whose Almighty Word
John Marriott (1780-1825)

you can hear the hymn here

Lord, your almighty Word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And where the gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray, 
Let there be light!

2 Saviour, you came to give
Those who in darkness live
Healing and sight,
Health to the sick in mind,
Sight to the inly blind,
Now to all humankind
Let there be light!

3 Spirit of truth and love,
Life giving, holy dove,
Speed forth your flight!
Move on the water’s face
Bearing the lamp of grace,
And in earth’s darkest place
Let there be light!

4 Holy and blessed three,
Glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, love, might;
Boundless as ocean’s tide,
Rolling in fullest pride,
Through the world far and wide,
Let there be light!

St Luke 12: 35-38

‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;  be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.


Those living 75 years ago when the end of war was declared (VE Day) have experience of what living in darkness was like – having your clothes laid out in case the air raid siren sounded and you had to get dressed in the dark and make your way to the nearest shelter.  May 8th 1945 changed all that. No wonder people headed into the streets to celebrate. 

Jesus warns ‘the little flock’ to be ready for action when the master returns. It’s no-good lying-in bed, even if you’ve laid your clothes out for the morning. (Do you do that in these dark mornings?)  You fumble for the light switch; ‘Let there be light’, but not too much or you’re blinded.  You mustn’t be stumbling round trying to put your pants on in the middle of the night ‘when he comes and knocks’.

The servants are ready and they are blessed because they didn’t nod off during the night. Here we have a reversal of the master/servant relationship. (Downton Abbey theme music has just started playing on the radio). Who knew God moves in mysterious ways?

Jesus said later: ‘I go and prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2) which is what the servants were doing for their master, ready for his arrival. Another role reversal.

Will you be ‘dressed and ready for action’ when the call comes, or will you be stumbling in the dark?
God of Reversals
who turned ‘I prepare a place for you’
from the preparation of the servants,
to the master,
when the light goes on
and it blazes bright in the night,
may we be prepared,
dressed and ready for action.
Holy and blessed Three,
glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, love, Might,
boundless as ocean’s tide
rolling in fullest pride,
through the world, far and wide.,
let there be light.

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