An Advent Reflection
The theme of the first week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of Peace” from last Sunday’s readings. Today’s advent verse is from the song of Zechariah at the birth of his son John (the Baptizer) in Luke 1
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” —Luke 1:78-79
In the center of my college campus was a large open space divided by a sidewalk that headed from the chapel and student center towards the dorms on the southwest side of campus. On one side a large lush lawn enjoyed full sun; on the other side, a large stand of shade trees made the grass thin. The chapel (with its basement classrooms) and the student center (with the cafeteria) stood on one side of the open space, the science center and other classroom buildings on the other sides. Sidewalks went around the perimeter to each of these buildings, but the students were not persuaded to use them. They had worn more direct pathways across the lawn, eroding the grass and leaving only dirt.
In winter only the sidewalks were cleared of snow and the banks of snow at their edge guided our feet onto the proper path.
Winter sidewalks had their own treachery, especially for a snow novice from California. But those well trod scars across the grass make me think about how hard it is to get people to stay on the proper path, any path. We tend to go our own way without thinking about others or the consequences of thousands of feet following their personal desires.
Today’s verse carries with it the promise of mercy, of light in our darkness and the pathway of peace. We should relish that promise. We should take heart in it. We should dwell joyfully in it. But we should also be mindful that there is a choice to make: whether to walk the path of peace or to walk the shortcut of our own desires.