Print Version December 5th, 2004
Something is coming. Two voices proclaim the same thing. The voice of a desert herald: Prepare the way, something is coming. The voice of an ancient prophet: A dead stump is sprouting, something is coming.
Two voices, as different as day and night, agree: something is coming. Isaiah soothing his people: things are going to change. Something is coming.
The Baptist raging against his people: you’d better change. Something is coming.
Do you hear the voice? Can you feel the pressure of something coming, something big, something awesome? Have you ever known that? In the dark sleepless hours? Or braced for bad news? Something is coming.
Fools that we are, in Advent we celebrate that feeling, celebrate that something is coming, coming to end our way of life and open a new page in our planet’s story.
John the Baptist sees the end of the old with an awful clarity: the axe is already laid at the rotten roots of the tree.
Isaiah dreams of something new with lyrics running wild: even now the dead stump is putting out shoots, bursting into bud, springing to life.
Either way, something is coming. Hope for it or hide from it, it’s on its way. And it will make a change indeed! Overturn all our futures, burn away all our routines.
John smells the coming harvest fires: the hypocrites, the settled, the fruitless—all ready for the fire, to be burned away like chaff to leave the grain sheer and clear.
Gentle Isaiah’s words console: Justice is coming, justice for the poor, help for the hungry, no harm or hurt in all God’s earth.
But change! Change of a magnitude we cannot grasp! The lion satisfied with straw. The snake without its venom. Predator and prey at peace. Children safe on the streets. War a ridiculous memory.
Something is coming that will change the natural order right down to its roots. Not just a change of human hearts — which would be miracle enough — but a transformation of creation all the way down to its atoms.
Something is coming and when it does it will break into our world and change it so utterly we will only recognise it in our dreams, in our strangest middle-of-the-night stirrings when the heart refuses to rest.
Something is coming — that’s the promise and the threat of Advent — and, fools that we are, we celebrate.
We celebrate, but we don’t believe! This Christmas we will celebrate our hurried feasts without ever daring to hope or fear what might have been, what could have been, what we only hope in the dark of night may yet be.
Something is coming. Taking shape. Finding form.
Something is coming — prepare its way.