“We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 1:2
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as with every scripture the story of the Magi has a literal and figurative meaning. The story of the Magi following a star speaks of the wise (Magi), recognizing the signs (star) of a new age dawning (in the east). Jesus called us to be wise and recognize the signs of our time and the coming of Jesus in victory. Advent is a time when we need to return to the Lord our God, heeding the warning of Mathew 24:12 &13 “Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”
Advent is a call to persevere, we see that the Magi travelled far, our journey in Christ and with Christ requires perseverance and there are many obstacles in the way. We need to be watchful and prayerful, and dutiful.
I cannot stress enough how much we need take to heart this Advent journey. We are all accustomed to our Lenten journey, and this season should have as much emphasis on examining our behaviour, deepening our spirituality, focussing on prayer, and growing in hope.
From back in my dairy farming days, my work day has always started in the dark, long before the dawn, and the words of Psalm 130:5 resonate with me (I have also stood guard as a night watchman in different contexts). The Psalmist says “My soul waits for the Lord, more than the night watch for the morning.” In ancient Israel night-time was fraught with danger and the night watch would eagerly wait for the sun to come up and the danger to pass. Advent is an acknowledgement by us, that there is darkness in our world, but we are living in anticipation of the Light. Long before the sun is visible on the horizon its light begins to illuminate the earth, and things not visible in the dark begin to become recognizable. Advent is a reflection on this pre-dawn light. In the predawn light shapes begin to appear but they take on a ghostly appearance and are not fully recognizable, you cannot yet see what the weather will be like, there is that moment of uncertainty as the sky reveals what the new day may hold, it is the “not yet” moment of the day and this is where life is lived, with the uncertainty of what the light will reveal but the certainty of the sun’s rising.
My dear friends, as we embrace the love of God in the pale pre-dawn light, may the Spirit of God fill you with peace, a peace that comes from the knowledge that Jesus is coming into our lives, to bring joy, hope, peace and love. And though we might not be able to make out the exact form of that, though it is illuminated but not clear, through His Resurrection and our union with Him as a people of the resurrection, and the fullness of time all will become clear. This is the hope that we live in.
Let us not grow cold in the predawn light of our lives, but let us continue in faith to receive the prize that Jesus has in store for us, eternal life. In the words of St Paul “I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14)
Love and Peace.
Fr Andrew Manning
Feast of John of Damascus.