Advent blog repost 4

This is a repost of an Advent blog series I did in 2003: the theme for Advent 4 was "UNION."

Welcome all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer in winter. Day in night.
Heaven in earth, and God in man.

--Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Despite what you've seen on TV or in the shops, this week the news is not birth, or babies, or shepherds, or stars. The real news is "UNION" - the marriage in Jesus of opposites, "without mixing, without change; [yet also] without division, without separation." That's the classic Chalcedonian definition of how Jesus is both God and human, but it's also a description of marriage.

Earth marries heaven as the Word is made flesh, and so our song is "When I Look at the World." It's a prayer that reveals a touchingly unfeigned admiration of Jesus:
I see an expression so clear and so true
That it changes the atmosphere when you walk into the room

What grips the narrator is not only Jesus as the Truth, as clarity, the one whose felt Presence changes everything; it's Jesus's steady ability to take into his open heart absolutely every moment of human suffering (and joy, but the ability to attend to suffering is in focus here):
When there's all kinds of chaos
And everyone is walking lame
You don't even blink now, do you
Or even look away

This point of union between God and man is a heart of compassion.

Naturally, we strive to emulate anyone we admire that deeply: "So I try to be like you, try to feel it like you do." But the singer's prayer reveals a discovery that he can't, that his efforts are "no use... without you." To be like Jesus, we need Jesus himself. Only by letting God graft us into the Union he embodies can we find the fruit of that Union manifest in us.

And so the song draws to a close still yearning for this marriage, this Union, with a heartfelt, almost teenage-romantic cry to the Beloved: I can't wait any longer!

I can't wait any longer
I can't wait till I'm stronger
I can't wait any longer
To see what you see
When I look at the world

All wonders in one sight. Heaven in earth and God in man.
....It's 4 Advent and we can't wait any longer.

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