December 13, 2020 - Pastor Message05/19/2021
THE ‘O ANTIPHONS’ PART 3: O KEY OF DAVID & O DAYSPRING
“O come, thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home; make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery.”
“O come, thou Dayspring from on high and cheer us by thy drawing nigh; disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadow put to flight” (O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL verses 56).
The Key of David is mentioned explicitly twice in Scripture: Isaiah 22:22, and Revelation 3:7. Like the “key to the city” a dignitary might receive from a mayor today, the Key of David symbolizes access to David’s city, Jerusalem. In Isaiah, it is a symbol of royal authority that God takes away from Shebna, the faithless master of the palace, and gives to his successor, Eliakim, God’s faithful servant. God entrusts to him the authority to grant or deny entry into Jerusalem in the face of besieging enemies: “When he opens, no one shall shut; and when he shuts, no one shall open.” This Old Testament image is recalled in Revelation’s message to the church in Philadelphia (modern Alasehir, in Turkey, not modern Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania), a community who remained faithful to God in the face of false teachings and persecution. Because of their fidelity, “The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open” will open the door for them to the new city of David, the heavenly Jerusalem. This holy one is Jesus, the Son of David, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We pray for him to come and open the door to his kingdom for us as we strive to live faithfully in the face of difficulties today.
Dayspring is a medieval expression for “daybreak” or “dawn” and refers to the first light of day breaking through the dark of night. Traditionally, day and night have been seen as symbols of life and death: day being the time when living things awake from slumber and come to life, and night being the time when they go to sleep and cease their activity. Because of this, God, the source of life, has often been seen as the daylight that drives away the darkness of sin and death, as we read in the prophet Isaiah. In chapters 59 & 60, he bemoans the sinfulness of the people but prophesies God’s coming as savior for those who repent, a savior who will drive away the darkness and bring about a new day: “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory” (Isaiah 60:1 2). In the New Testament, Jesus is seen as the divine savior promised by the prophets whose light drives away the darkness, as we see in Zechariah’s song at the birth of his son, the prophet John the Baptist: “And you, child, shall be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow and to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:7679). In the darkness of winter we celebrate the Advent season and slowly light the candles of our Advent wreath. May its growing light increase our longing for the dayspring, Jesus Christ, to come and drive away the darkness of our sins, leading us to the pathway of peace.
Fr. Marc Stockton