To What End?

Sue A. Rozeboom

In one of his sermons for Advent, Bernard of Clairvaux asks a multiplicity of questions fitting for our anticipation of celebrating again the incarnation of the Son of God. He plumbs simple questions, in order that we might sink with him into the profound depths of their fitting response. Simple questions like

Who is the Savior that is to come?
When will he come?
How will he come?
Whence will he come?
To whom will he come?
Why will he come?

Bernard does not ask explicitly the question “To what end will he come?” But we may.

So, to what end? What is, and what shall be, the outcome of the Savior’s coming?

Through the prophet Joel and the apostle Paul, the Spirit gives us an expansive view: Photo courtesy of NASA The Savior’s coming is not only “for us and for our salvation” (as we confess in the Nicene Creed), but for all the world, for all creation. The ground mourns, says Joel. All creation groans, says Paul, as in the pangs of labor, waiting with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. All creation. The whole world. The entire cosmos.

The season of Advent is an invitation to be uniquely aware that, with us, toda la tierra espera al Salvador, as the first line of Alberto Taulé’s hymn sings. Toda la tierra. All earth is waiting.

If your imagination needs “show and tell” to be impressed by this, take a directed tour of Google images. Given what you experience, be “a herald of creation’s lamentation,” to paraphrase John Calvin’s claim about God’s people. Input a search phrase like “gulf oil spill 2010” and listen, if you will, to what you see: pelicans balking for their wings to be freed from the bondage of oil; sea turtles wheezing, suspended in sludge. Input a phrase like “deforestation in the Amazon.” Can you hear Tolkien’s Treebeard fume: “They come with fire, they come with axes, gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning…”? Input “drought in Africa,” and hearken to the silence of emaciated children, emaciated livestock, an emaciated landscape. Input “smog” and experience the breath of life being withdrawn. Input what you will, and pray with your eyes wide open. For a time, be a priest, not of creation’s praise, but of its pain. Groan with all creation: Maranathá! Come, Lord Jesus!

In the season of Advent, we long for the coming of the Savior.

To what end?

That the Savior might make his blessing known far as the curse is found.

All earth is waiting.

Amen.

Sue A. Rozeboom teaches liturgical theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church. This meditation is adaptated from a chapel service during Advent 2012.