Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel, nascetur pro te Israel!

It is no accident that Christmas is celebrated in December just after the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Of course, the Church was born in the northern hemisphere, so the symbolism is much more evident to those of use who live north of the equator. With the passing of the autumnal equinox, the days become shorter than night. The nights become longer and colder. All of this climaxes with the winter solstice, for on that day, the night ceases its lengthening and soon thereafter the days begin to grow longer until they reach their maximum at the summer solstice. My intent is not to meditate on the seasons, however to show just another way that we can experience our faith by being aware of the world around us.

As the days shorten after the autumnal equinox, we begin to prepare for the long nights of winter which will soon be upon us. We get wood for burning in fireplaces, we pull out the winter clothes, we store food from the previous summer's garden (if we grow one), we winterize our cars and homes, etc. And then we wait as the nights grow longer and colder until December when we get to the longest night of the year. A couple of days later, the nights become shorter and daylight grows longer. Although most of the earth still is dead to winter, it is the beginning of the promise of warmer weather to come and along with it a rebirth of the world around us.

In a like manner, Advent is the liturgical and spiritual equivalent of our preparation for winter. Christians wait and prepare for the coming of the Lord much the same as Israel and the whole world longed to be brought out of darkness into the light. We give thanks for Jesus who gives meaning to our world, we meditate on the mysteries surrounding the incarnation, we prepare the way of the Lord through prayer with our families around the Advent wreaths on our dinner tables. And then, on December 25, just a few days after the winter solstice, when daylight begins to overcome night, we celebrate the coming of the Light of the World in humble circumstances in a remote corner of Palestine; the day the long night of history came to an end.

O COME, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!

Come, Lord Jesus! And do not delay!


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