During my study leave in October, I read a number of wonderful books, two of which were by Madeleine L’Engle.

Most people probably know that Madeleine is one of my favourite authors. Though I never met her, she feels like a close spiritual friend and teacher – my dear sister in Christ.

In one of the books I read, The Irrational Season, she themes each chapter around a different season of the Church’s calendar: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter… etc.

And so, I turned to her chapters on Advent for this the first Sunday of Advent.

Advent is the time when we pray and prepare for the coming of Christ. The prayer of Advent (which we will pray many times this season) is “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

In the coming of Christ, we also reflect on, among other things, the judgement of God and the end of things. Those are some loaded subjects that can fill us with anger, shame, fear and trembling. But I don’t think they have to. And I think Madeleine would agree with me. The judgement of God is not to be feared if the heart of God’s character is grace, mercy, forgiveness and love (which I firmly believe it is). And so, this Advent, as we pray, ‘come, Lord Jesus,’ take heart from these words of our sister Madeleine on the power, persistence and inevitability of the love of God. 

We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness, and the result of our failures in love. In the evening of life, we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of my Lord I could not call on him to come.

But his love is greater than all our hate, and he will not rest until Judas has turned to him, until Satan has turned to him, until the dark has turned to him; until we can all, all of us without exception, freely return his look of love with love in our own eyes and hearts. And then, healed, whole, complete but not finished, we will know the joy of being co-creators with the one to whom we call.

Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus. 

Thanks be to God!