Light (adj.): Advent Word 23 (Christmas Word)

The lectionary for Christmas Eve and Christmas is replete with references to light, used as a noun. Contrarian to the bitter end, however, I have chosen to write instead about light, the adjective. Jesus bids us,

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, KJV)

The farmer’s metaphor of the easy yoke is reminiscent of the shepherd’s metaphor in Psalm 23: “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Each trope–yoke, rod, staff–signifies both submission to the task ahead and dependence on the Master to fulfill all our needs. Such willing surrender does indeed promise comfort and rest for the jangled spirit.

But the metaphor continues: “My burden is light.” What is that burden? Only to obey. And what are commandments we must obey? Jesus provides that guidance as well:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)

Love is the only law. Love is not a burden. And love came down at Christmas.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894); chalk drawing by her brother, Pre-Raphaelite post Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Love came down at Christmas, 
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token;
love be yours and love be mine;
love to God and others,
love for plea and gift and sign.

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