Sunday, December 04, 2016

Advent: a month's yearning

First the long slow drawing in of the evenings; now the long slow drawing near of God.  Advent is a very precious time of year, less severe than Lent (necessary though that severity is) and tinged with that yearning — known to us all since childhood but dulled and dormant in millions of modern hearts — for a mysterious approaching joy which, though still out of sight, will surely come to those who wait for it.  It is a distilled, wintry version, of course, of the feeling that is with us all year round, even if we choose to ignore it, that for all earth's delights there is some greater joy somewhere else.  Advent is a model of a lifetime's waiting that gives us a chance to see our lives, and what lies at its end, as if from outside, and to renew our determination to do good.

If the people of Britain are ever again to return to the faith, perhaps it will be this feeling that draws them churchwards at last.  Under the old vaults they will find that the joy they have sought is a child in his mother's arms.  He is only a few Sundays away.  Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.

A stirring arrangement of the old carol by Paul Leddington Wright, sung by the Choir of Derby Cathedral; from 'Songs of Praise' broadcast 29 November 2011, (B.B.C.)

Wishing a peaceful Advent to all readers, near and far.

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