Dear People of St. Catherine’s,
Already my grandchildren have presented me with their Christmas present list. Among many other activities, Claire now plays the trumpet in the school band. She loves her trumpet. I am giving her a t-shirt for Christmas that says: “beware a girl with her trumpet!” So, we also are giving her a music stand and a trumpet cleaning kit.
Liam loves many things. He is an ardent student of dinosaurs. He loves to learn about the solar system, black holes, and cosmology in general. We are currently reading the “God” book – Bible stories retold by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And he loves whales! So, on his list appeared this request: an evolution of whales book.
Liam knows that whales are mammals and once walked on land. So, believe it or not, I found a book entitled When Whales Walked on the Earth.
Liam is only 5! Well, he’ll be 6 in January. But he already knows that life on earth has a history, and that everything has changed and will keep changing on earth and in the universe. Already he understands John Henry Newman’s dictum that “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
So, even though these Christmas lists are focused on Christmas, they have put me in mind of Advent. It is my favorite season of the entire Christian year, with its blue hangings, hymns of hope and longing, John the Baptist, Mary and all the rest. And, even though we might not like to dwell on it, Advent is the great season of change. We cry, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.” But that is not a cry to maintain the status quo. It is not a balm for preservation. We are not waiting for a period on our sentence.
We hope that when Jesus comes – in glory, in hidden majesty, in barely perceived moments of grace – the desert shall blossom like a rose, the rough places will be made plain, the poor shall be lifted up, the sinful forgiven, and the outcasts brought home. “In that day” we hope the face of the earth shall be renewed and that all people shall live in justice and peace, that the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and all people shall know God’s mercy and love.
“Come, Lord Jesus, Come.” It is not a cry for stability but change. This year it seems so much more urgent, as we await the calling of our new rector, seek to rebuild our parish life so bent down by Covid, and renew our hope that goodness, patience and truth shall raise our common life to new grandeur.
In almost all renderings of Jesus’ coming in glory, his appearing is announced by a great trumpet call. “The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised” sings the bass soloist in Messiah. St. Paul assured the Thessalonians that
the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Scoff, if you wish, at the seemingly primitive cosmology of St. Paul’s words, but remember the great song from Anything Goes, by Cole Porter:
Blow, Gabriel, blow.
Seems like anything important is preceded by a great trumpet call. So, my money is on Claire, my granddaughter J On Thanksgiving Day, after dinner, I heard her in the back yard with her trumpet. Suddenly I realized she was playing – pretty well – the trumpet call from 2001 Space Odyssey! If she could figure out that rousing call, she can surely usher Jesus along on his advent appearing.
How about that: from a simple Christmas present list, we have figured out Advent. Well, my grandchildren have helped. And that is what grandchildren are for! The trumpet sounds and change is coming. It is that simple.
With hope in the coming of the Lord,
Allen W. Farabee
Sunday 8:00 AM
Sunday 9:00 AM
HOLY EUCHARIST WITH MUSIC
Sunday 10:00 AM
Sunday 10:00 AM