Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A
The Collect: Heavenly Father, purify us through the Spirit, that thy Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; and if not a mansion, then a manger . . . for there is room for him with us.
We have almost arrived. Now the fourth candle is lit and we can properly consider the coming of Christ at Christmas. This is why I love Advent and wish we observed it better: Christmas is such a joy but let us first wait and prepare. Patience eludes us in our modern age, alas.
As usual, the Old Testament reading, if read fully, is provocative. We well know the sign — “a virgin shall conceive” — but what of the next line? “He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.” This may be the Immanuel, God with us, but he is not a superhero like the mythical Siddartha who walked and talked from birth. Instead, this Immanuel will be a fully human baby with much mewling and puking to do before he comes of age. An eater of curds and honey not ambrosia. A man as much as the Son of Man. One who will descend below all things to save us from all things, the “condescension of God.”
“Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved” — how wondrous a promise! This Jesus “through whom we have received grace” . . . here he comes: Yeshua (“He saves”), “for he will save his people from their sins.”