An Advent Reflection
The theme of the fourth week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of ‘God with us’” from last Sunday’s readings. Friday’s advent verse is from the visions of the New Jerusalem recorded by the prophet John in the book of Revelation.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them. –Revelation 21:3
At last. Heaven has come down to earth. Or, to say it another way, earth has become heaven – the dwelling place of God – as it was meant to be.
I hiked with a friend years ago over the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The journey uphill began with a steep climb and though there were some slightly level or a little bit downhill sections, it was mostly uphill. The second night was getting dark, but we saw a small flat space off the trail and decided to set camp. We woke up in the morning covered in snow. Cold and stiff and anticipating another day of climbing, I was less than eager. But we got moving with morning light to discover we were only a hundred yards or so from the crest. We came over the ridge and looked down into a sun-warmed valley. At last.
The voice from the throne declares that at last the sun rises to set no more. At last the heavenly Jerusalem lives on earth. At last God dwells among us. At least we are not our warring selves, but God’s peoples. At last.
You can describe it, with the prophet, as a great city with gates made from single pearls but, to me it will always be that wondrous landscape, the warmth of the sun, and the knowledge that the path is now all downhill.
We have seen the first morning light of that day in the child of Bethlehem. Heaven has come down. God is with us.