Advent has begun, the time of waiting when we turn toward the coming dawn with renewed expectancy. Each year in the liturgical cycle we are invited to pray with the entire Church for the rebirth of Christ within the stable of our hearts, and for the graces we will need as we await his final coming. The scripture readings are about hope arising in the midst of darkness, of beginnings and endings and the eternal joy when there will be no more endings. Until that ultimate homecoming, we live in a world that is still in the process of being restored in Christ. The Christ Child is among us, and so is Herod.
Every year or so I read aloud to my children Charles Dickens’ great classic, A Christmas Carol. Most of our six have also reread it quietly to themselves and watched the three better known film versions of it. There are always new lights to be found in just about any Dickens novel, and the Carol is no exception. You find yourself laughing at something which last year you found not in the least funny; this year you’re choking back a sob where last year you were left untouched.