Today is the first Sunday in Advent--and Dr. Swift had the honour of reading the Gospel.
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Advent is the season of waiting--we wait for the Holy Child to come (to come is what "Advent" means.) But it is also the season of groaning, the season of birth, the season of trembling.
In Advent, we hear in the readings the massive facts of human evil, of natural disaster, of the four Last Things: Heaven, Hell, Death and the Judgement.
Not fashionable, perhaps. But real.
In a world of tsuamis and terrorism, of child murder and sudden death, in a world of hunger and pain, we so desperately need Advent.
The season to feel our calamities, to repent, to cry out to God for a deliverer, for Someone to help us, to be with us, to aid, comfort, assoil and strengthen us.
And the message of Advent is that He comes.
He comes, and we have hope.
From Death will come Life.
In Judgement, we will have Mercy.
From the old, the decaying, the trembling, will come a Child.
Behold the Man whose Name is the Branch.
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