Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wonder and awe

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

This is my comfort in my trouble,
that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:50

We are well into the service of lessons and carols when I realize that somewhere along the way I have been transported. The beauty of it all washes over me. On a Tuesday night in late December, people from a wide community have assembled to hear the ancient story. As voices are lifted, and faces illumined by candlelight, there is no doubt we have gathered in the realm of the sacred.

Rituals are important, because they usher us into the center of it all. The carols, the decorated trees, the manger scenes. The seasonal celebrations and the pauses for solemn awe. How empty these are if they become routine and we cease to allow ourselves to be touched, transfixed, and transformed. We do await the Christ child, as astonishing and momentous an event as any birth. That in and of itself could transport one into wonder. And this is so much more.

This little Babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
Robert Southwell