I John 3:16-18 (NKJV)
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
During the holy season of Advent, I focus on darkness and absence, so that I can appreciate the astonishing arrival of spiritual light in the world. Christ is still held within God’s darkness as the Word. “Everything came to be through him and apart from him nothing that has come came to be. In him was life. The life was the light of humankind. The light shines in the dark and the dark didn’t quench it.” (Three Gospels, by Reynolds Price.)
Life during Advent appears to be quite normal, but in the depths of our beings dwell a hushed anticipation and urgent hope. We are counting on that breathless moment when God’s spiritual light will burn away our illusions and our longing. At a recent concert, I heard a choral composition that expresses the awesome gift of the birth of Jesus. It is Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre. The text, sung in Latin, is:
warm and heavy as pure gold
and the angels sing softly
to the new-born baby.
Whitacre asked singers across the world to send him videos of the various vocal parts, and you can hear the resulting “virtual” choir on YouTube. It has been visited more than 3 million times!
As a latecomer to formal religious beliefs, I well remember many years spent believing that my humanity, luck and other people were the only factors determining my days. Christ was hiding in his darkness which is also light. I can still remember what life was like without a relationship with Christ: the stumbling and aloneness, the missed-placed certainties and bluster. During the weeks of Advent, I know that soon the baby under the star will return to me, blindingly beautiful when the painted backdrop of life is yanked up to the heavens and once again the world is flooded with love’s inextinguishable light.
Prayer: Lord, help me to quiet my mind and listen for your word. In the deep Advent silence of winter help me feel how loved I am stirring in my being and as certain as Christ’s coming. Come again, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.