[Thanks to Agnes Kramer-Hamstra for digging out this quote for Advent:]
What we are watching for is a party, and that party is not just down the street making up its mind when to come to us; it’s already hiding in our basement, banging on our steam pipes, and laughing its way up our cellar stairs. The unknown day or hour of its finally bursting into the kitchen and roistering its way through the whole house is not dreadful, it is all part of the divine lark of grace. God is not our mother-in-law coming to check and see if her wedding-present china has been chipped; He is a funny Old Uncle with a salami under one arm and a bottle of wine under the other. We do indeed need to watch for Him, but only because it would be such a pity to miss all the fun.
- Robert Farrar Capon, The Parables of Judgement
A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.
[these words from Jean Vanier were not particularly addressed to the advent season, but they seemed very relevant to me]
Do we understand God’s vision for humanity or are we just closed up in our own little worlds? Can peace come? Is there hope for Kosovo, Israel, Palestine, Iraq or Northern Ireland? Is there hope in this world where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing daily? Is there hope? Yes, there is hope! There is hope because God is. God is! And though there is the silence of God, there is also the mystery of God working in the hearts of people doing beautiful things. They don’t hit the headlines. The headlines are frequently things of pain – catastrophes, death. We don’t see all the peace-loving people breaking down the barriers to work together and to love each other. All of us can understand the reaction of Peter. Maybe if we found Jesus kneeling at our feet we would react in the same way. We want a big God who fixes our problems. We don’t want a little God saying, ‘I need you and I’ll come and live in you. I’ll give you a new strength, a new spirit and you shall work so people become free and loving and peace-making: We always want a God who is going to fix our problems, but God is saying, ‘I’ll give you the strength so you become one of those who work with others to bring peace to our world.’
– Jean Vanier, Encountering ‘the Other’
We wait with Mary for Christ to be formed in us,
Daring to trust this hidden womb-weaving,
And treasuring the smallest signs of growth.
As Mary took heart to see
the wondrous swelling of Elizabeth’s belly,
So the burgeoning life of God we see in others
encourages us that this sacred life grows also in us.
More and more, we long to bring Christ into the world,
Though we know that pain and labour accompany the birth of new life
As surely as joy and wonder.
Groaning and waiting,
Pregnant with hope and desire,
We prepare today a place for your coming,
Son of Mary’s womb, and Christ of our own hearts.
written by Rachael Barham