I took this image last night right outside of our humble garage apartment. I love night photography. It opens up a whole new set of ideas, composition, and creativity. When you do night photography you have to have long exposure times, sometimes several minutes or more. I'm always filled with anticipation, waiting to see what the image is going to look like once I release the shutter. The outcome is always a surprise.
The season of Advent is right around the corner. As a way to observe the season creatively, our church issued a Call to Artists a couple of months ago on the theme of "Anticipation." We thought this would be an appropriate theme with which our various visual and literary artists could engage. I hadn't made any connections about my night sky image and the Advent theme or the call to artists...until this morning.
I liked this image as soon as I took it - something about the treeline, the stars, and the openness of the night sky. This morning I realized, however, the connection between this image and the birth of Christ. The Incarnation was a real, historic event signaled by a spectacular nighttime display and witnessed by a group of stargazers. The star of Bethlehem signaled that the Creator-God had put on flesh and become one of us.
This event had been anticipated for many, many years and was accompanied by a chorus of angels. It was as if the heavenly host could not contain their own excitement over this glorious event. One ordinary night, one amazing occurence.
There is another event, recorded in the New Testament, for which the sky is the backdrop. At the moment of Christ's Ascension the disciples are awestruck, gazing upward as the resurrected, glorified Jesus returns to his Father's side. This event is desribed in the Old Testament as well, but from a different point of view. To complement the earthly departure, Psalm 24 offers us a prophetic picture of the heavenly arrival of the Son. And like the outburst of song at his birth, a heavenly chorus also seems to have accompanied his anticipated return. Poetically, we hear of the "ancient doors" being lifted up that the "King of Glory may come in."
There is a final moment waiting. Anticipation still lingers in the air. This same Jesus whose star was witnessed by ordinary men; whose ascension to heaven was witnessed by the disciples, will come again on the clouds. Once more, the focus of the universe will be upward. One ordinary day. One ordinary sky. In the twinkling of the eye all will be changed. All will be redeemed and restored. It will be a day like none other.
Until then I'll keep gazing at the stars with my camera, anticipating each new exposure. Wondering what the next night time sky may bring.