First Sunday of Advent: Mark 13.24-27
In The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, once the apocalypse is underway, the stars are called home. The visiting earth-children watch it happen: the sky grows dark, streaks of light criss-cross the sky, but then instead of fiery orbs, glowing humanoid figures assemble. There’s a sense of relief and conviviality at their gathering, having been flung out at the creation of the universe and now gathered in once more.
I have always loved this image, drawn as it certainly is from Mark’s apocalyptic prose in which ‘stars will be falling from heaven.’ Lewis has taken this image of prophetic signs in the skies and the collapsing of the firmament, and domesticated it somewhat. Like fields that are ripe for reaping, even the skies need yield up their lights.
This year I stayed up late on two occasions to try and watch meteor showers, the Quadrantids in January and the Perseids in August. I was successful neither time because of low clouds (no Son of Man in sight).
I remember how optimistic about 2020 I felt on January 3rd, as I considered climbing up on the church roof with a flask of hot chocolate to wait for the heavenly sight. In my gut was a sense of possibility about the year. Possibilities have come, of course, but different ones to the ones we all hoped for.
Advent begins today: that traditional time of looking forward and backwards, examining the ‘four last things’ — heaven, hell, death, and judgement — and finding in them not only cause for sober attention, but also cause for hope. In many ways, the shatterings and apocalypses that many of us have experienced this year make these ‘last things’ seem ever more urgent topics for meditation and teaching. As we meditate and as we teach may we be guided by hope: may we watch out for that first faint, then unignorable, north star of hope in Christ, heralded by the whole of creation.
Something else to watch out for: the Geminid meteor shower, on the 13-14th of December.
The Rev’d Erin Clark