DECEMBER 11, 2020
Some beautiful words of Jesus: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” John 16:12.
ADVENT: I have said/written many things about this over 41 years! You know, those 4 weeks before Christmas. I have made much about that season. Some apocalyptic, say, from Ezekiel, even Isaiah. Then, apocryphal, and not to forget, pseudepigraphal. Of course, some notes of the prophetic. And then, simply literal remarks from those Scriptures in Matthew and Luke. To be honest, I have said and written some pronouncements about Advent that will not stand up in any court, just to get through the season, and on with Christmas! Those personal commentaries would be in none of the above categories, but simply, “Say something, Kyles; it’s Sunday!” I regret those occasions of necessity!
But of late, with much prayer as I have touched the Holy Book, there is a single word that holds deep and deeper value-meaning through these few retired years: “Anticipation.” That word is of no surprise to many of you who have tended to the meanings of Advent over the years. It is a good word. Goes like this.
Something is coming, maybe someone. You don’t know what it is, but at a higher level, you feel it. A horizon in the East is lifting up to our vision. And yet, you have to wait until whatever it is becomes manifest. “Looking forward to something, even with eagerness, a condition of expectancy,” says our brother, Roget.
Biblical stories are resplendent with anticipation. Advent leads us by the hand and heart to those Scriptures where folk are hearing messengers in sheepfields in the middle of the night! Babies are leaping in women’s wombs! Men, about where they usually are, look and sound dumbfounded, frightened, and try to think their way through practical methods to rid themselves of this, like putting away the perpetrators, like Elizabeth and Mary. Soliloquies abound: again, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and more. One of the characters is struck speechless! Magi see stars. A king is scared, jealous, plotting, and a liar. One even admits, albeit later, that there is something coming, that God-Man, “whose shoelaces I am not fit to bend down and loose.” You see? You hear it? Anticipation is boiling over here!!
John 16:12 has Jesus point-of-fact saying: “Listen; some things I simply cannot tell you; the burden (good translation!) of what I have to say, you cannot take it now.” Wow! I was not expecting that. We are left exposed, as it were; not in control, like those Biblical characters, but now, in 2020……who look, watch, listen, and most of all, hush! Something approaches, close by, but not yet. Anticipation: that expression of life when human breath quickens, blood pressure rises, heartbeats ratchet up, eyes bug, ears can hear the proverbial pin drop! Advent.
Perhaps this will help us.
I volunteer at Hospice. One night, couple of years back, as my role is clear, I check rooms for temperature, doorlocks, lights …not so much with patients; just the mechanics of the buildings and clerical reports.
I entered a gentleman’s room with my role in hand, on tiptoe, as not to disturb the silence. His eyes opened. Me: “How you doing, Brother?” He: “Cold in here,” in a nearly inaudible volume, struggling to be heard. He could not move, barely talk. I retrieved a blanket from the closet and tucked him clear up to his chin. He: “That’s good.” He continued with much labor: “I think I am alright. Just laying here, waiting to go to the house, and see if there is anything to all this Jesus talk.” Anticipation was thick in that room! Expectancy that causes mere humans to catch their breath. Even eagerness in his voice. Something is coming. “People” were present, but not there, as you probably know what I mean. Not ghosts, haints, or saints, spooks but presence of more than us two! Me: “Maybe, when you get to the house, tell ‘em I said, ‘Hey.’” We both chuckled, his amusement, labored.
I went on about my chores. 30 minutes, no more. That gentleman went on, in his own words, “to the house.” That “house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
What happened? Advent.