Advent: It is dark now when I rise to walk the dog—dark and cold. Our five-month-old puppy, Fergus, is squirming with excitement as I fill my coffee cup and put on my scarf and coat before we venture into the predawn darkness. The neighborhood is quiet and still. To the east, down Westover Avenue, I see the thinnest hint of dawn—a line of light—across the horizon. In a few days Advent will be upon us. “For while all things were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of her swift course, Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne…” (Wisdom 18:14-15a).
Advent: Darkness…stillness…a subtle light twinkling in the dark sky…the shortest day of the year…wonder and mystery…a candle burning.
Advent: “…give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility…” (Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, Book of Common Prayer).
Advent: The steaming coffee fills me with warmth as Fergus pauses to take in a long drag from a fascinating smell imbedded in a patch of grass. The temperature is 31. I’m beginning to get chilly but I’m content to walk a bit more.
Advent: “I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre, The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away…” (T.S. Eliot, “East Coker”)
Advent begins the new year for the church. In the northern hemisphere, the days grow shorter, darker and colder. The word means “approach.” As the darkness deepens, we move to the light. As the cold grips us, we gather with the warmth of friends and community. Gentle firelight replaces harsh sunlight. It is time to tell stories, to dream dreams, to feel our yearning and to watch expectantly for the birth of something new, that which does not come by our own doing but is born through grace from beyond – a new hope, a new possibility, a new wonder, a new love, a new peace – born in a dark, cold desolate place when the night is deep and still. So, keep watch because you know neither the day nor the hour. Stay awake for you will not be disappointed.