So it begins.
The movement toward Christmas. Someone said the other day that they are always a little sad when Thanksgiving is over because it signals a rush of hunting and gathering somewhat like what our ancestors did...though they'd be shocked that our gathering was of such frivolous things, not to mention how scared out of their pantaloons they'd feel at all the electronic devices.
But, as many have said before me (and like far more eloquently), it doesn't have to be so. Twenty years ago (really? REALLY? 1992 was 20 years ago? Yikes, bikes!) I read a book called The Vigil. It wasn't my common fare but changed the way my heart and mind moved toward Christmas. Waited for it, actually. Vigil means a devotional watching, or keeping awake, through the customary hours of the night. The author,Wendy M. Wright, says, "Our entire lives are a vigil, a keeping watch, for the fulfillment of this hope. All creation holds vigil with us, as it has from the beginning. All generations before us and those that come after us will hold it as well.
"But it is especially in this season of the church year, during Advent and Christmas, the season of the Coming, that we rise up on tiptoe to dance. We open our throats to sing and to proclaim this vigil that we keep." p. 16
Once in the long history of time, that hope for which all Creation waited came. HE came, I should say. From the first, through all the fits and starts, the successes and failures, the covenant-keeping and (far more often) covenant-breaking, creation waited. Kept vigil. Through the dark hours of night that was all that history we call BC.
But let's be clear. We are not merely observers of creation. We forget this, I think. We gaze out on mountains, oceans, deserts, rolling hills, lush valleys and call THAT creation. But the climax of God's creation was human beings. Not the apex but representing the completion because we alone bear His image. We alone are given dominion and authority over the rest of the earth. And when creation sings, we are part of it, when it rocks with storm and breaks we share that as well. We are His created Ones. So we need to get over this idea that we are set apart from Creation, that we can observe it as good and other and beautiful without recognizing that God intended the same for us.
Because He so intended this beauty for us, and because we so messed it up (and messed up as much of the rest of His creation as we can get our hands on along the way), He told us to wait for Him to make it right again. That He would come.
So began our vigil for the once and for all answer to what we've done to spoil our rightful place with God and our rightful place with the rest of creation. Waiting for the Incarnate, it turned out, though sometimes the mist was so thick we hardly knew it was God Himself for whom we were waiting. Even His clear (looking back) words ahead of time somehow clouded the truth for many.
But He came.
And for those who believe, we have the good fortune--the GREAT GRACE--to practice, once again this year, a devotional watching through the darkness (corresponding with the darkest time of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere) for the Incarnate to come. God born in flesh. This vigil can quiet every other thing we do, can still us within so that all the tasks, the goods and gifts and harried pace is slowed. Waiting within. Letting the anticipation for His birth settle on our shoulders like a warm cape so we wear it, show it, live it in whatever we do.
When creation sings, we are the voices. Lift yours in song, whisper them in prayer. Quiet them in meditation. For, behold (as the old words would say), the Son of righteousness will come...