Anglican Parish of Derby and Blackville
THE SEASON of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.
– Jan L. Richardson , Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas
While an inmate in the German Tegel Prison Camp, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian, wrote to his parents:
Jesus stands at the door knocking (Revelation 3:20). In total reality, he comes in the form of a begger, of the dissolate human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbour, as the one through whom God calls you. That is the great seriousness and the great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us. Do you want to close the door or open it?
It may strike us as strange to see Christ in such a near face, but he said it, and those who withdraw from the serious reality of the Advent message cannot talk of the coming of Christ in their heart, either…
Christ is knocking. It’s still not Christmas, but it’s also still not the great last Advent, the last coming of Christ. Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate runs the longing for the last Advent, when the word will be: “See, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth. [- as quoted in God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010)]
In a song PEI singer and composer Lennie Gallant wrote, looks at the story of the Nativity from the point-of view of the innkeeper who turns Mary and Joseph away from his inn because there is no room for them. The last stanza of that song is:
I found them in a stable
Kings and shepherds gathered round
It seemed there was no room
For the likes of me there to be found
I could not understand it
But I had to see the child
When the mother bade me to come near
I swear I saw him smile
Then I heard what sounded like
A thousand chains breaking apart
And a door now swinging open
Letting light enter my heart
Enter my heart
Advent is that season of waiting, praying, studying, and watching for Our Lord that gives us time the innkeeper may not have had in his busy-ness attending to those matters he thought were most important. He was so busy, he almost missed the opportunity to have that “light” – The Light of the World – enter his heart. The “world” tells us to hurry up and get busy – with the things of the world. Our God calls us to peace, to quiet, to contemplation and to preparing to be ready to open the door to Him who stands and knocks. Take a look around – focus on your heart, mind, soul – is it prepared to have Christ enter in? Read again the quote at the top of this piece by Jan L. Richardson and heed the advide to linger, tarry, ponder, wait, behold, and wonder. Take the time to prepare both for the celebration of Christ’s first coming at Christmas BUT also to prepare for His second coming at the end of all time. Immerse yourself for a time each day in the Scriptures – perhaps following the daily readings for the offices of Morning and Evening prayer. Take your part as a member of the Body of Christ in the worship and work of the Church – in preparing our hearts, and the hearts of others to have Christ “enter in”. Look to Jesus, our Saviour and our Judge – and find in Him Mercy, Grace and Forgiveness. And, finding Him, know him as The Eternal King who comes to you in friend and stranger and who will fill you with His Peace – that Peace which no other can give.
|Psalm: 25: 1-7
UNTO thee, O Lord, will I lift up my soul; / my God, I have put my trust in thee.
2 O let me not be confounded, / neither let mine enemies triumph over me.
3 For all they that hope in thee shall not be ashamed; / but such as transgress without a cause shall be put to confusion.
4 Show me thy ways, O Lord, / and teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me forth in thy truth, and teach me : / for thou art the God of my salvation; in thee is my hope all the day long.
6 Call to remembrance, O Lord, thy tender mercies, / and thy loving-kindnesses, which have been ever of old.
7 O remember not the sins and offences of my youth; / but according to thy mercy think thou upon me, O Lord, for thy goodness.
“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent,” Bonhoeffer wrote to his best friend Eberhard Bethge as the holidays approached in 1943, “One waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other–things that are really of no consequence–the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.” Christ is coming – when he knocks on that door for it to be opened – will we be ready for Him to come in?