The cry of John, the prophet in the desert, is not a warm, mince-pie-mullified-wined-Christmasfairied-evensong sort of a cry, it is the cry-of-ages, passion-filled, of the man of God who stands on the River Jordan, border between exile-wilderness and the promised land, bridge between the Old testament and the New, the old religion and the coming of God to baptise you and me with his own Spirit and to raise us from our worldly numbness to live like God lives, to see, to gaze in awe and wonder upon his beautiful universe.

It is a voice that cries, I am not the centre of the universe. I do not control everything in it. Actually, I can’t control anything. But I don’t have to. There is One coming, in whom I may rest. One who can and will lift up the lowly, release the captives, open the eyes of the blind, heal the sick, cast out the demons, turn this upside down world back up the right way – A shoot sprouting from the stump of Jesse – from his roots a bud blossoming -The Spirit of the Lord resting upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength… “He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted”.

But you gotta look hard sometimes, ask God for the grace to see. This world is upside down. This world is full of sadness, badness and selfish ways. Helicopters do crash in Glasgow. Typhoons wipe out communities and earthquakes swallow them up. Governments order young men and women to kill and be killed and make little sense when it comes to saying why.

Make a way in the desert and you will see that he comes, the One whose sandals none of us are worthy to untie. Advent is about turning around, away from our control-centred yearnings and glimpsing God’s intimate love for every hair on our head. The God who takes joy in small things does defend us poor ones from the wrongs of life. But he does not eradicate trouble. Instead, he loves us within it.

With all the badness and sadness in our world, how can this be true? Wait. Like Advent, wait. Wipe the sand from your eyes. Open yourself up and let the light in. Nelson Mandela waited 27 years in prison for the freedom of his people. He was 70 before he could even vote. His children said he was still teaching us from his hospital bed. Certainly he taught the world’s media, camped like vultures ready to pounce with the news. Mandela kept them waiting for him to die! Sometimes it is in the waiting, isn’t it? Wait… wait and…see. As Julian of Norwich said:

All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and every manner of thing shall be well.

Prepare ye the Way of the Lord. Make straight his paths in the desert…


~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on December 9, 2013.

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