Once upon a time, a long, long time ago
in a land far away lived an old man and an old woman.
Life had not been bad to them, exactly,
but in their hearts each nursed a secret sorrow.
Day after day after day, the old man looked out
across the wilderness and wept as he called by name
the sons and daughters never born to them.
Night after night after night, he looked out
into the dark sky and called to mind
life-moments that had never come to pass.
One evening, as day gave way to night,
God visited the man and said
Look again at the wilderness
Look again at the night sky
Look closer than before: what do you see?
Beauty in the wilderness, beauty in the night sky.
And God said, So shall your descendents be:
more numerous than the crystal-grains of sand
more numerous than the diamond-glittering stars
formed in great pillars
formed in great constellations
marks and signs for all those who would make their way
through this uncertain world,
giving direction, sustaining hope.
So shall your descendents be.
This, then, is why we are the ones
called to Rejoice!
For we look closer-than and see
For we look farther-than and see
God, the Creator and Sustainer and friend
has not left us on our own:
tomorrow he comes!
Today is Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday. Rejoice, because light is breaking into darkness (Isaiah 9); because rain is coming to transform the wilderness (Isaiah 35). Not in denial of the darkness and the wilderness in our world - in our lives - but in the certain hope that by his coming among us (Advent), God transforms our communities. Today we light a pink candle to mourn with those who mourn and, simultaneously, rejoice with those who rejoice.
Tomorrow marks the start of the Advent Antiphons, ancient Christian prayers that run between 17 December and Christmas Eve, and spell-out, in secret code, the message: TOMORROW HE COMES!