December Journal, Third Sunday in Advent

rain-on-a-windowAn icy rain has dampened the Bay Area today, and occasionally I wondered at the hail upon the windshield driving home from church. Would there be snow on Angel Mountain, aka Mount Diablo? The summit is covered in a thick cloud now, but perhaps later a white blanket shall be seen.

The rain taps my window as Christ sometimes taps my soul. It is a light sound, a delicate touch, a steady caress. It is somehow comforting, both the natural water upon the glass and the sacred water quenching my soul.

In this time of waiting for the Christ Child to be born among us, we linger in this desert of Advent, thirsty for such sacred water, longing for baptism.

And so the green hills grow greener in this land of drought, of pandemic, of masking. They drink in the waters from heaven just as we open our lips to receive the Eucharist, our souls baptized anew. We too grow greener in the drought of our hearts. We are inoculated by Christ, no longer fearing fear, fearing faces, fearing touch, fearing laughter, fearing community. We no longer fear grace, the immense love of God stirring us to live fully as we are meant to live.

And so I am stirred by these waters of grace. I am touched and tapped by Christ, a touching and tapping that is ever present whether or not I am awake to it. He knocks at the door of my heart, just as the rain taps the earth. He embraces us with grace continually.

440px-GaudeteIncipitAdvent 3 is called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, named for the introit at the beginning of the Mass, “Rejoice in the Lord always…” It is also called Rose Sunday, a break from penitential purple, a day when the theme is Heaven rather than the earlier Death and Judgment, and the later theme, Hell. We light three candles on our wreathe, two purple and one pink.

IMG_3395 (4)Rose Sunday is a clearing of the skies, a break in the rain, as we glimpse Heaven through the parting clouds. Heaven is real, I am certain, for we sense it all the time as humans on this rolling planet we call Earth. We sense we were made for a better world, and this sense is often called our conscience. Our consciences must be educated, refined, and purified, but our sense of right and wrong, of judgment, has long been a pointer to the existence of God, a moral and loving Father-Creator who desires our good. Heaven is that good manifestly lived in Eternity and punctuated in our own time.

Worshiping together on a Sunday morning gives us a glimpse of that world awaiting us, where many of our loved ones have journeyed ahead of us. There are times when I think they are with me, watching and loving and encouraging, these friends and family so terribly missed. As Christians we are inheritors of this cloud of witnesses to the love of God. We walk among them, some angels, some souls waiting for the New Jerusalem, the Second Coming of Christ. As a friend recently said when asked if he believed in Heaven, “I’ll have a little nap, then enter Eternity.”

Advent is a little nap, a pause before the intersection of the eternal in time. We reflect and meditate upon this Christmas miracle, as we open ourselves to Christ within us.

star of bethlehemWe worship together on a Sunday, singing and celebrating the glory of Heaven. We say together the familiar words of the Mass, confessing and being absolved, praying for others, praying for our country, praying the consecration of the bread and wine to become the Real Presence of Christ. We stand before the altar, waiting to receive him. We are a row of penitents with the hope of Heaven, and soon we receive Heaven into our bodies. Our thirst is quenched by God.

We have been greened just as the California hills have been greened. The clouds part, and the love of God lights up the world just as the star lights up the stable, and eternity intersects time.

We rejoice always, singing and praising and giving thanks. For we have been given grace, grace to be what we are meant to be, to live and love as we are meant to live and love. We can claim with certainty in this time of Advent 2021, that, as our Bishop Morse of blessed memory often said, “All is grace.”

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