The glory of the Lord shone on Christmas night

December 18, 2018

The Pastor's Page

Christmas night, Christmas star

When Jesus was born, the glory of the Lord shone around them (Lk 2:9). The glory was more impressive than the Northern Lights, a full moon on a clear night, or an exploding star. There was a grand and glorious light, resplendent in beauty, emanating from the heavens, flooding the sky, bursting to the outer limits, converging over Bethlehem, funneled into a luminescent beam, and shining over the place where the newborn Jesus was lying in the manger.

It was the holiest of nights. God is light, and God’s light is glorious. Radiant in the heavens, it was a spectacular sight to behold on earth. The glory of the Lord was majestic in beauty, captivating, breathtaking, overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and heartwarming.

When Jesus was born, God dawned from on high (see Lk 1:78). The glory of the Lord confirmed the presence of God, that Jesus, the light of the human race (Jn 1:4), had appeared on the earth, that he is the light shining in the darkness (Jn 1:5), that the true light had come into the world (Jn 1:9), that the Word had become flesh and was dwelling among us (Jn 1:14a), and with his presence on earth, the glory of God was shining for all to see.

The glory of the Lord is mentioned in the Old Testament, and it indicates the presence of God. God’s glory is conveyed in many ways: clouds, fire, smoke, lightening, thunder, earthquakes, trumpet blasts, miracles, a whispering sound, and light. When one or more of these are present together, it is a theophany, a mystical revelation of the presence of God.

The glory of the Lord was evident when God fed the Israelites in the desert with manna (Ex 16:7), when the Lord appeared to the Israelites in a cloud when Aaron spoke to them (Ex 16:10), when a cloud enshrouded Mount Sinai at the time that Moses received the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments (Ex 24:15,16,17); and when a cloud covered the meeting tent to signify God’s presence (Ex 40:34,35; Lv 9:23; Nm 9:15-22).

The prophet Isaiah foretold that the glory of the Lord would be made manifest when the long-awaited Messiah would appear. In his second Immanuel prophecy, he wrote that, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in the land of gloom a light has shone” (Is 9:1). At the coming of the Messiah, “The glory of the Lord will be revealed” (Is 40:5), and it will be a time of salvation and liberation for God’s people. Isaiah further described the arrival of the Messiah: “Arise! Shine, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you. Though darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds, the peoples, upon you the Lord will dawn, and over you his glory will be seen. Nations shall walk by your light, kings by the radiance of your dawning” (Is 60:1-3).

When Jesus was born, there was a magnificent array of lights in the night sky. It was the glory of the Lord, the greatest theophany ever. God was present that night. The child Jesus born of Mary in Bethlehem is the Son of God (Lk 1:35).

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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