We are barreling headlong into Advent, moving toward the coming Christ—the day of the Savior-baby’s birth, of angels, donkeys, and wise men. “There was this star that shone in the west,” we tell our children, “and the wise little kings of Orient came bearing gifts.” The Christmas story has become quaint, a thing to tell over mulled wine and stuffed Cornish hens. And man do I love a good Cornish hen.
But this year’s Advent readings have not been quaint—the lamp stands of the Revelation, the red rider of Zechariah. Instead, the readings are eerie and tense, the stuff of Halloween movies. They show a broken Israel, an adulterous church. The readings evidence a tumultuous, warring world, Messiah waiting on the brink of salvation and warning “let every heart prepare me room.” The readings are a De Goya painting; they are “Bullet the Blue Sky.”
The prophets and visioneers leave the impression that Christ came to a world that was laid flat and pulled taut, one on the cusp of splitting wide and bleeding dry. Maybe we live in a world that is not much different.
“And I can see those fighter planes, and I can see those fighter planes…”