Advent Promises

Sunday, December 20

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.*

…gaze on the beauty of the Lord… Psalm 27:4

While living in Germany, we traveled with a friend from the United States to the beautiful tulip gardens of Holland. Afterwards we meandered through Amsterdam’s illustrious Rijksmuseum where the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh and other artists of renown fill the eyes with beauty. Because I’d visited the museum before, knew a little of the layout and, aware that our time was limited, led Dave to some of the more famous works of art. But I suddenly realized that he had stopped before an artist’s depiction of a courtyard scene with hundreds of tiny figures–men, women, children, dogs and cats. Glued to the spot, Dave gazed long at the painting and pointed out details I’d never noticed before.

That day’s art lesson has stayed with me through the years so when I read the phrase gaze on the beauty of the Lord, I stopped like Dave. Too often I’ve fixated on Isaiah’s words that Jesus possessed no beauty that we should desire him, and the Hebrew writer’s fixing our eyes on Jesus as a prescription for mental attention to Jesus’ life and words.

Gaze. Have you watched a new parent contemplating the newborn? Did you choose a Christmas card depicting Mary looking deeply into the infant face of Jesus? These aren’t mere exercises, but attention-gripping reactions to the beauty before them.

The things of earth scream at us five days before Christmas. It’s time to stop for important gazing time. Find a quiet space, light a candle and, using your sacred imagination, sit with the face of Jesus before you. What do you see in his infant face? His adolescent years? At the Samaria well when he broke all the rules to heal a woman’s heart? At the beach grilling fish?

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

*Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

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