Christmas is almost here and in the Church is also a great longing, and a thrill. Christ’s first coming is about to be made present again.
Yet our longing and thrill are also directed to his glorious second coming. And now Mother Church, the New Jerusalem, our Mother looks for her groom Jesus to come again all his glory:
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God…I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear.” (Rev 21:2-3; 19:7-8)
And this longing remains until Mother Church, Christ’s beautiful bride, hears those words from him: Surge amica mea, speciosa mea et veni! (Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one and come!) (Song of Songs 2:10). Till then, her longing cannot be quenched, till he come again, in all his radiant beauty and majesty. Till then, she longs, she looks and she waits.
Though some of her children have attained to this glory, she waits and longs till the number of her elect children are complete and she, in her fullness, will go to be with her spouse for ever in beatific glory.
One of the great Advent hymns of the Protestant tradition picks up this bridal theme and “weds” it with advent longing. This particular translation is a masterpiece of English translation (from the German). It is both biblical and artistically beautiful:
Wake, Awake with tidings thrilling;
The Watchmen all the air are filling;
Arise, Jerusalem, Arise!
Midnight strikes, no more delaying;
“The hour has come,” we hear them saying;
Where are ye all ye virgins wise?
The bridegroom comes in sight
Raise high, your torches bright!
The wedding songs swells loud and strong;
Go forth and join the festal throng.
Zion hears the watchman shouting;
Her heart leaps up with joy undoubting;
She stands and waits with eager eyes!
She her love from heaven descending;
Adorned with truth and grace unending;
Her light burns clear her star doth rise!
Now come our precious crown;
Lord Jesus, God’s own Son;
Let us prepare to follow there
Where in thy supper we may share.
Photo Credit: Kelly Chandler Photography