The day comes and goes: families meet; food’s eaten;
As tradition has it, rain comes at night.
What then? Police patrol the festive season;
Roads are blocked in case the Christmas sprite
Has rendered some of us unsafe to drive.
So wait. The moment passes, and too soon
The chance will leave as quick as it arrived.
Within the scheduled week there still is room,
Yet hearts congeal and work expands like gas
When holidays are done. No holy days?
Each moment hides deep grace; and though it pass
The pregnant hope of things will have its way.
Open eyes to see the swelling joy
Of light and life amidst our vacant noise.
See clockwise how the candle-steps arise,
New wick ablaze as old wicks stand beside.
Some rise in hope with freshness in their eyes,
Some simply stand; His Nonetheless abides
In hearts that quicken, hearts of smouldering wick.
Though Zion is not tall, though nations scoff,
The small, the humble, now are tall. Come quick!
The way’s made plain, though faint, though still far off.
Come, come: let’s walk. His house beckons us in,
And joyful songs may fill our hearts today.
The hope is sure, though hope sometimes burns dim;
A beacon star still flicks to show the way.
Advent arises; knees unbend to find
This God-with-us, this brother of mankind.
Rejoice. The third candle, pink and fresh with life,
Alights and sparkles while the hope grows long.
Rejoice: Advent is rising; though the strife
Of ways unprepared may hurt our knees, the strong
Will hold the weak and walk. Advent is stretching
The stiff joints of silence. Advent is latent
Yet stirring with noise; Advent is listening
For the cue to rise and walk, to repent
And follow the king. Advent’s a twitch, an impulse,
A call to attention, a horn lifted,
A pounding, a surging, a raising of pulse,
An in-gathering of lost and of sifted.
Advent is beckoning and growing with sound;
Advent rejoices in humming around.
One candle grows short, a second descends,
And three others wait for the rising of light.
Wicks burn down and dwindle, yet hope still appends
The longing of prayers in the slow Advent night.
In the day, though the shouting of sun may shut out
The lamenting of captives, yet watch in the night,
For Advent is slowing: our rushing, our doubt,
Yes, Advent is dwindling – right down to the quick –
And Advent is hoping, and looking, though sight
Is obscured, and deferred hope makes the heart sick.
Advent is finding new candles to light:
When the length of the waiting diminishes cheer,
The light still will flicker, to shut out all fear.
Calendar flaps decked with chocolate each day;
Shops tinsel-lined as though God intended
The season to dazzle our wallets away.
Advent is not for the first-fruits of commerce,
Nor is it for month-long pre-parties and drinks,
And not for fluoro-lit reindeers dispersed
In gardens, despite what the suburbs may think.
No, Advent is waiting: for succour, for light.
Advent is silence, four centuries’ thirst
And prophecies ringing on into the night.
Christmas appeases, but mourning comes first:
Emmanuel promised, but light not yet here;
Our night-time rejoicing, till dawn shall appear.