There was a time before the web of language was woven
before the rope of words
before symbols, those fine, strong threads, were spun –
it was long, long ago, but you remember.
Arouse your ancient memory and inward beholding,
You Homo Sapiens, You Wise One, to behold:
Before the web of language, the rope of words or the thread of symbols, fine and
strong, there simply was the bare Thingness of the Thing that bears the name “Fire.”
Stoke the embers of recognition, burning deep in our primordial night.
Unforgettably, in our bones, the barest imagination of it
warms fingertips, summons blood, quiets the mind, enfolds the gaze…
or prepares the legs to flee.
But now, You Child of God, search deeper, touch the bedrock of being, and
recollect another Fire:
Before smoke or ash or kindling
Before the first hearth or altar
Before the first offering
Before pure and impure
there was a Fire you cannot see or touch but that you are made to long for.
Before wrath or fear –
Before mercy or love –
Before death or judgment or heaven or hell –
Before the beginning and after the end: there was this Fire,
The Unquenchable Fire in the Heart of God,
a God Who is Love.
If you have been worshipping with us with any regularity this Advent you will notice a slight variation this morning in our liturgical colors. The traditional Sarum blue is normally flanked by earthy green and highlights of crimson, all colors that represent the mystery of the Incarnation; that is, God becoming flesh and putting on our human vesture in the womb of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Just as future parents prepare themselves for the birth of a child, so this season of Advent is a time for prayer, recollection, and getting our lives in order in preparation for the birth of Jesus at Christmas.But today, the Sarum blue is complimented by swatches of velvety rose to signify the 3rd Sunday of Advent which is known as ‘Gaudete’ Sunday. Gaudete, is a Latin word that means “Rejoice,” which is the first word we hear in both the Introit to today’s Mass as well as the reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
How does one prepare for the coming of the Lord? We are in the season called Advent, the season in which – as members of Christ’s body, the Church – we prayerfully and intentionally prepare ourselves for the Lord’s coming. We speak of his coming in three ways:
his coming at Christmas, when we shall recall again the way in which “the Word became flesh and lived among us”[i] nearly 2,000 years ago,
his coming in the present moment, as we seek to remain alert and attentive to the signs of God’s presence and activity in our own lived experience and in our world,
and his coming in glory at the end of the ages, when he will “judge the living and the dead” and establish a “kingdom (that) will have no end.”[ii]
Advent is a season of waiting, of anticipation, of preparation. We are waiting expectantly for the Lord and preparing ourselves to meet him when he comes. But how exactly do we prepare for the coming of the Lord?