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The Tide of Advent

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Nov 29 in E-Press
This Sunday marks the beginning of the season of Advent. It leads us to celebrate the birth of Christ long past, the coming of Christ in the future and what those mean for us as we wait in the present. Advent has a lot of waiting.
 
Many of you know C.S. Lewis as a writer, but you may not know that he wrote poetry as well.  One of his poems is called “The Turn of the Tide.”
The poem is about the birth of Christ, two full pages of images of what happened in the world as the Christ child was about to be born in Bethlehem.  In a nutshell, what happens is that the world comes to a stop.  It just stops. 

“Breathless was the air over Jerusalem, black and bare
Were the fields; hard as granite the clods…
       and the deathly stillness spread from Bethlehem.”
 
Lewis paints a poetic picture of a growing sense that in the stillness, something is about to happen. Caesar pauses in mid-signature signing his documents of the empire, animals stop in their tracks, the forests of the world go quiet,

“Great Galactal lords stood back to back with swords
Half-drawn, awaiting the event,
And a whisper among them passed, “Is this perhaps the last
of our story and the glories of our crown?”
…The tide lay motionless at ebb.”
 
The poem comes to a pause and hush with those words, the sea neither advancing nor retreating.  Ebb. All of creation waits, breathless.  The poem will continue, and other pictures will be soon be painted of scenes after the birth in Bethlehem, but we aren’t there yet. For this moment “...The tide lay motionless at ebb.” We are poised in waiting and anticipation. In worship, we will slowly rehearse the story, light the candles, read the texts. We will gather in Wylie Chapel and the sanctuary, we will sing our songs of anticipation, trying not to rush to the manger.  We wait. For Jesus. Welcome to Advent.

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