Sermon: Advent Meditation and Compline
Preached on 4th December 2008
by The Reverend Canon Dr David Kennedy
Adventus Domini, ‘the Coming of the Lord'.
The end of the year, and the End of all things.
The end of the year, yet the beginning of the year.
A first Coming and a second Coming.
In the beginning Christ; in the End, Christ.
Alpha and Omega, Omega and Alpha.
Excitement, anticipation, hope.
From darkness to light.
Fragile light, tenuous light, spreading light, enveloping light, embracing light, overwhelming light -
and darkness shall flee, shall flee away.
Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding,
‘Christ is nigh', it seems to say.
Hark! The glad sound, the Saviour comes,
The saviour promised long.
Promise and fulfilment,
Waiting, watching, looking, searching
The long history of Israel - finding and losing, obeying and deserting, serving and denying, coming home and going into exile, and coming home again.
A stump, a root, a remnant, a hope.
A star, a sign, swaddling clothes, a stable, rough-hewn shepherds, exotic and mysterious Magi, impoverished parents, a baby, Immanuel, his coming - ‘coming in great humility'
A voice, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord' - a washing, a cleansing, a purging, a revealing - ‘This is my Son' - a baptism, a vocation, suffering, dying, sacrifice, atonement, an empty tomb.
Seeing, experiencing, knowing, beholding, hearing, touching. The Word made flesh.
Then coming, coming again, coming in clouds, in glory.
Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful Majesty.
A dazzling body, transfiguring beauty, bright-shining glory - coming, in ‘his glorious Majesty'.
Coming as Saviour, as Redeemer, as Judge -
to judge the quick and dead.
Holiness, burning holiness, and truth, inescapable truth.
But who may abide the Day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appeareth?
For he is like a refiner's fire.
‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ';
and ‘judgement begins with the household of God'.
We must give account:
- - of our use of the talents we have been given
- - of every careless word
- - ‘for I say to you, whoever is angry with a brother or sister will be liable to judgement'.
Burning holiness; seeing reality, no more illusion, sin as sin, sin as utterly sinful, which must be judged.
But because of judgment, mercy.
Mercy: we have an Advocate with the Father:
Mercy: his blood cleanses us from all sin.
Mercy, and so not to shrink back from him in shame, but to approach, to draw near with tears, tears of penitence becoming tears of joy - to embrace mercy, ecstacy, rapture:
with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars.
Fulfilment, consummation, bliss, the beatific vision.
Re-union, transformation, salvation for the world, the cosmos, a new humanity:
wide, embracing, re-creating, perfecting.
Adventus Domini - ‘the Coming of the Lord'.
The Lord - who was, and who is, and who is to come.
A call: Awake, wake up, stay awake, watch, be on your guard, Wachet auf
Wait, look -
for ‘like a thief in the night', at ‘an unexpected hour', he comes.
for the one who came and who will come again, comes:
to see him, to know him, to recognise him, now, here, tonight,
and tomorrow, in busyness, in the routine, in the ordinary, in bread, in wine, in others, in the poor -
in stillness, in silence, in time-honoured words and plainsong, in this quiet hour of compline.