Isaiah 48.17-19; Psalm 1; Matthew 11.16-19
‘…that, as the author of our salvation himself has taught us, we may hasten, alert and with lighted lamps, to meet him when he comes.’ The Collect for this day neatly summarises the Advent season’s summons to us to attentiveness to the activity of God in our midst; to a vocation of proclamation, drawing the attention of an indifferent world to the salvific efficacy of that divine activity; to a spirituality of expectancy, not demanding that God act to fulfil our desires and demands but rather welcoming Him as we see Him at work and recognising that He ever and always acts in accord with His ineradicable purpose.
In this way, Advent is the season of the human condition. Advent asks of us honest acknowledgement of the limitations of our power and the limitations of our understanding. ‘Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be His counsellor?’ [Romans 11.34] are the ringing interrogations of these days. Alongside them, though, is set the unchanging promise of God himself: ‘I am coming to save you.’ [Isaiah 35.4] A self-satisfied world grows indignant when told it needs salvation; but the self-aware ‘groaning in [our] slavery cry out for help’. And God, looking down on us, knows [Exodus 2.23-25]: knows our needs, knows our ignorance and our impotence, knows and resolves to hasten to our aid. May we hasten, alert and with lighted lamps, to meet him when he comes.