Here's an entry for the Nashotah House Advent Devotional that was written by one of our seminarians, Micah Hogan. We hope it better helps you to prepare for the coming of Christ!
Ps. 90; Isa. 65:15b-25; Rev. 21:1-6
The world as we know it is built on death.
Take, for example, the Gall gnat. The nature-writer Annie Dillard alerts us to the fact that sometimes, when Gall gnat larvae produce eggs, these eggs can hatch inside them and proceed to devour their parents upon birth. But this of course is the way of all flesh. Every act of procreation is an act of self-abnegation. We give birth to our replacements. We filliate our own destruction. Dillard’s conclusion resonates with our own experience: “The world has signed a pact with the devil; it had to. It is a covenant to which every thing, even every hydrogen atom, is bound. The terms are clear: if you want to live, you have to die.”
With a primordial chomp the pact was signed. Adam signed his name for all the world to the devil’s deal in the fruit-juice dripping from his lips. Now we and all the world find ourselves groaning under God’s curse:
You sweep them away as with a flood; they
are like a dream,
like the grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is
in the evening it fades and withers.
This is the order as ancient as memory, the ceaseless dance of morning and evening, birth and death. There is a reason we come crying into the world.
But wonder of wonders, It is in just this way, with just these tears, that we find the beginnings of new heavens and new earth. Just south of Jerusalem the wails of an infant usher in the end of weeping and the cries of distress (Is. 65:19-20). He is the New, and by his tears he will wipe away every tear. His mourning is the last mourning, His crying the last crying, His pain the last pain. By the death of this one death is undone. “For the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). Right here, in the middle of the old, the new has come. Right here, in the middle of time’s macabre and manic girations, eternal life has arrived.
For now in Bethlehem the serpent eats the dust (Is. 65:25), his head pressed down to the ground under the heel of the Virgin’s Son. There’s a new Adam on the scene, and Nature’s contract has been revoked. It is not only the ox and the ass that gaze transfigured on the infant face of newness, it is the wolf as well as the lamb. The straw of the ox becomes a love-feast shared with the lion. For here at Bethlehem Noah’s ark has come to rest. Here even the Gall gnat finds the one thing needful. Here all creation’s crammed in a stable, transfigured from its bloodthirst in the softness of the infant flesh.
Here, wrapped in swaddling clothes, is the end of all history arrived early. The world as we know it is built on death. The world as we do not know it, the world without end which is coming, is built on a birth. With angels and archangels, with cicadas and capybaras, with the whole company of heaven, with the whole panoply of earth, let us laud and magnify his holy name. Come let us adore Him.