not too much

Monday 28 November

Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.

Isaiah 4.2-6 | Psalm 122 | Matthew 8.5-11 |

Hymn for Advent
Francis Fike

Baffled in darkness, we are lost,
Wandering in the night.
All of our paths are evil-crossed.
Come to us, Lord of Light,
For here we stumble and despair
Left to our strength alone.
Sorrow and failure in the air
Chill us to the bone.

The winter night is long and cold
And darker than a tomb,
But not as dark as hearts that hold
For you no vacant room.
The darkness deepens, and the night
Gathers around us; where is dawn?
Come to us, Lord of lasting Light;
Our feeble flame is gone.

Taught by the prophets' joyful Word
We await a savior's birth.
Prepare us for your coming, Lord,
Into the fallen earth.
Come to the terror-troubled land
Where always war draws near
And evil spreads on every hand
Its ministries of fear.

Thaw out the nearly frozen heart
With warm, incarnate love;
Reveal your precious healing art.
In flights of the Holy Dove,
And bring to all the weary earth
The power to love and cope;
Bring to us on your day of birth
Fresh Joy, and Peace, and Hope.

Anglican Theological Review, 81.4 Fall 1999, pp. 687-688.

Prayer

Circle us, Lord
Circle this nation with Advent love and hope
Create a desire to listen to the Advent message
Create a willingness to understand and respond
Create a need to reach out to the Christ Child
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our nation with the light of your presence.

Circle us, Lord
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation
Where there is sickness and disease bring healing
Where there is hunger and despair bring hope
Where there is torture and oppression bring release
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle this world with the light of your presence.


The Nativity and The Annunciation to the Shepherds, c. 1030 - 1040, Ottonian, Regensburg, Bavaria. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

 
 
 
 

Gentle Mary laid her child. Jongemannenkoor, Stads Jongenskoor Oldenzaal. (Young Men's Choir, City of Oldenzaal Youth Choirs), cond. Mariette Effing. Christmas 2013. Words by Joseph Cook, 1919.

Reflection

Advent has for a long time been one of the most important and significant times in the Church's year—a time of waiting, we sometimes say. But once we've said waiting, of course that's not a very attractive word. We're not a culture that's very used to waiting. 'Take waiting out of wanting'—that's a slogan that was very popular some decades ago—and it still governs a great deal of the way we behave. We'd quite like to have things when we decide we want them. And so waiting seems negative, waiting seems perhaps passive, unexciting, the boring bit before we get to the exciting bit. …

Well it's that kind of waiting that Advent is about. We remember in Advent the time of waiting before the birth of Jesus, and we remember that time of waiting as the Bible shows it to us—as a time when people were indeed longing for something that would change everything, and yet at the same time not quite knowing what that something would be. During Advent, Christians go back to that time of waiting as the Bible shows it to us. They read again the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Old Testament. They read about how people were longing for an end to slavery, longing to be back home in some sense, longing to be at home with God again, longing for reconciliation. And all of that is expressed in the most powerful metaphors, especially in the prophecies of Isaiah; metaphors about the desert blossoming, metaphors about the rain falling, metaphors about day dawning after there's been a long, long night.

So during this four weeks before Christmas, that's what Christians are reflecting on. When Jesus comes into the life of the world with something unplanned, overwhelming, something that makes a colossal difference, we long for it and yet we don't quite know what it's going to involve. This is a bit odd isn't it, you might say. Surely Jesus has come into the world and by now we ought to know what sort of difference he's made. But the truth is that we don't yet know the difference Jesus might make. We know some of the difference he's made to our lives as individuals, to the life of the Christian community, the Church, to the whole world. And yet there's more. We're still waiting to see what might happen if Jesus was allowed into our lives that bit more fully; that bit more radically.
—Rowan Williams, 'A Reflection on Advent' in Darkness Yielding: Liturgies, Prayers and Reflections for Advent, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter (London: Canterbury Press/Cairns Publications, 2009), 6–9.


May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.