An Advent Reflection
Keeping Vigil – An Advent Reflection
The glory of the Lord will shine on you
Like the sun God will rise over you
God’s glory will appear in your midst.
The prophet Isaiah
This has been a year in which every person on the planet has been called to hold on to hope. As we have faced the unknown, the uncertain and the frightening, we have been called to keep before us that vision of something greater, wider, deeper, beyond the present moment’s trials. We have been called to watch and to wait. And so, with that in our hearts, we come to that great season of hope, of watching and waiting – Advent.
To keep vigil means to wait and watch. When we keep vigil, we gather our scattered energies and we become present in watchful attention. Silence and prayer are the marks of a vigil, as are candles. The light symbolises hope and promise. In our Church Year we are about to enter this time of waiting and watching. Next week is the first week of the season of Advent – the four weeks leading to Christmas. There is something absolutely beautiful and utterly profound about Advent: words and images of light, hope, promise, waiting and longing, such as those of Isaiah, above. There is gentleness, beauty and tenderness in the images and music of Advent. It really is a holy season when everything, the liturgy, Scripture, all speak of a Reality both beyond and within what is known, a Reality that will break upon us like the coming of dawn, as Zechariah says in his beautiful prayer in Luke’s Gospel. Everything points towards the coming of the One whose story we know will touch us. But we are not there yet. We prepare our hearts and minds. There is the anticipation of the Feast to come. The readings we hear during these weeks are all dripping with these rich images. These beautiful words of promise from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, speak of the abundance of life, peace, richness and joy:
Let the wilderness and the dry lands exult;
Let the wasteland rejoice and bloom;
Let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil;
Let it rejoice and sing for joy.
Strengthen all weary hands,
Steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts,
Courage, do not be afraid
Look, your God is coming.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator