APOCALPYSE: the catastrophic end of the world. Apocalypse is an ancient theatre term meaning to pull back the curtain and uncover something! There is nothing more exciting than to be behind stage on opening night wondering who is in the audience! We are nervous, anxious. We wonder if our friends and families are in their seats. And what do we find ourselves doing? We are pulling back the curtain to peek at who is in the theatre.
In the days of Third Isaiah, the people prayed for God to pull back the heavens and come down. Returning to their homeland from Babylon, the people longed for a powerful relationship with God. They hoped for a renewed religion that believed in a God who once pulled back the Red Sea and saved their ancestors!
In St. Mark’s community, the people earnestly pray for the Second Coming of the Lord. The very early Christians believe that their Savior would return in their lifetime. As they wait for their Lord, community members get arrested and suffer for their faith. So they keep telling each other…stay awake, watch and be vigilant.
Advent is about waiting. Life is about waiting. Waiting is the whole point of the scriptures today. But who waits for whom? People will expect me to say that we wait for God, for the Second Coming of the Lord, for our end and entrance into eternity. What if during Advent we think about the Lord who waits for us?
Third Isaiah presents us with a profound theological image of God. God is the potter. We are the clay. God’s foot on the pedal moves the potter’s wheel. As the wheel moves so do we with God’s wet hands forming us, molding us. God is patient, excited and intense as we take shape. And if at once we do not turn into someone, then down goes the clay into a lump until God forms us into a creation of his choosing. Then God places us in the kiln to complete the creation process.
So, instead of the line, “’Tis the season to be jolly,” I suggest that this Advent week we think of “’Tis the season to be a clay pot.” Clay pots do not tell their makers how they want to look. Some of us are fragile. Some of us are dirty and hardened. Advent gives us another chance to do what is right and to be mindful of God in all we do.
In the words of William Shakespeare,
All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players…
And when we pull back the curtain we will find sitting in the audience our favorite fan, the Lord Jesus himself.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
The First Sunday of Advent