At the round earth’s imagined corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
At Christmas we celebrate the hope of the world, Jesus the incarnate word. At the first Christmas, shepherds were the ones to bear witness to his arrival. And the Gospels tell us that at his second coming all people (living and dead) will be gathered to bear witness to his return.
That is why on the first Sunday in Advent our Gospel focuses on predictions of the end times. For hope is most relevant when we mortals are aware of our own fragile state. In fact, it may be, that the shepherds were chosen to greet Jesus just because they were humble, realistic, and open.
So, what does it mean to greet Jesus in the twenty first century? It could mean feeding neighbors in need. It could mean really listening to a friend (or stranger.) Or it could mean standing up for someone who is threatened in our presence. No matter what, the key to greeting Jesus in each of these situations is to do it with humility…with an awareness of our own fragile state.
In his Holy Sonnet, Donne, after calling on the angels to summon all humanity, changes his mind. “Let them sleep,” he entreats, “and me mourn a space.” Donne craves a time to repent…to bring his own wishes in line with God’s and to find the abundance of God’s grace. Donne longs for a period of advent, expectant reflection so that he may develop eyes to see and appreciate Jesus at the last.
We too need time to reflect and so, yearly, we observe the season of Advent. It is a gift, a space in which we may mourn, or rejoice, or simply rest. In the next four weeks, let us luxuriate in this Advent time we have been given. Let’s not rush nor lose sight of our goal: to touch the ground of our own fragility and to claim the hope of God’s grace, Jesus the Christ.
Advent blessings one and all.