Advent Reflection: Comfortable with Distance


This picture was reproduced, with others, in the book ‘The Wonder of the Christian Story’. They formed part of an exhibition on display in St Pauls Bookshop, London, in Autumn 2001. All illustrations, text and design on this web-site are copyright © Radiant Light 2003 – 2006.

Fire descends on high in the shape of a lion

Burn the sacrifice of pride and ride on to Mount Zion

Matisyahu, song “Fire Of Heaven / Altar Of Earth”
from the album Youth

Yet, most strangely, and from deeps not before discovered, his faith looked up; before the wickedness that he saw, the wickedness from which he fled, he yet beheld, like a flaming standard in the middle of the air, that power of redemption to which he must, till death, bear witness; which, though it crush him utterly, he could not deny; though none among the living might ever behold it, he had beheld it, and must keep the faith.

James Baldwin from Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

Heading into the third Sunday of Advent.  Two candles lit thus far.  The thought that keeps reoccuring to me:  you are too comfortable with distance.  Is this not true?  Do we become comfortable in our distance from the fire of heaven?  Lord knows I do!  As I reflect on God, heaven, fire-coming down to earth, incarnation, etc. I realize that God is never distant.  I am the distant one.  God is always near but we are oftentimes far away.

My conversation partners for this advent have been the unlikeliest of collaborations: a Jewish Hasidic rapper, a prophetic literary giant, and a devout little girl.

Advent Prayer:

Too many words sometimes.  Not enough ‘wait on the Lord’.  The Lord is coming.  Thy kingdom come.  Bring your fire from heaven to light this dark night of the soul.  Bring water to barren places.  Pour out mercy and justice to the vulnerable.  Let your light shine through me.  Lord, my God, bringer of shalom let my family, friends, and the strangers I meet on the street see your fire from heaven.  Let it burn away the chaff in my soul, in my neighborhood, my state, my country, and your planet.  The chaff of indifference, greed, materialism, and idolatry.  Your will be done Most High.  Amen


One thought on “Advent Reflection: Comfortable with Distance

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  1. Thanks for these reflections Anthony. Let the fire come. I stand with you. And I like Matis and Baldwin together; in many ways they tell similar stories.

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