A recent report in the news tells us that an ancient city has been discovered under the sands of the desert in Egypt. Houses, streets and pottery and all sorts of artifacts are being re-claimed. The location of the city is near some of the pyramids and it is being suggested that it might have been one of the colonies where the builders, engineers and architects lived.
For many centuries that city has been covered over by layers of sand. There it has lain untouched and undisturbed across the passage of time; its streets were silent, its houses uninhabited. That is until now when they layers have been removed to reveal things we never knew.
I always suspect Advent is like a hidden city, a place waiting to be found again, a place covered over by all sort of debri. In the modern world it can be covered over by things like Black Friday. It can be buried under the mass panic to buy things. It can lie deep underneath all the demands of a commercial Christmas, that knows nothing of the Christ child’s birth. It can be hidden by our need to have things, more things.
Advent waits to be rediscovered, to have the sands blown away, to be revealed and known. The true Advent with all its beauty, with all its hope and life. Its streets and its house still stand waiting to be known.
Under these sands what is it we find, nothing less than the promise of God to come and be with us. Not God who is unknown or who is a puzzle but God who promises to come into our world in a special way. God who promises to be with us. That promise must have seemed tantalising to the people: a time, as the first readings says when the mountains shall rise up, a time even when men will beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks, nations shall not raise a sword against another nation, neither shall they learn war any more. A time of great and mighty deeds, things not thought about or imagined. What form would this visitation take?
In the city and streets that are the Advent there awaits all of us the experience of God who has come to us. He has come to the earthly city, he has dwelled and lived among us. He has fulfilled his promise. We have come to known just exactly how he has come to us in his son Jesus, born of Mary, In the city and streets of Advent, there waits great consolation to the troubled, guidance for those who are lost, strength for those cast down for the message is that God is with us.
Advent waits to tell us a story - that we are not alone, that we are not cast into a sea of chance , tossed by the waves aimlessly. God has come to us, it tells us, he has dwelled among us, he has entered into our lives, he has longed to be with us.
This truth is waiting to be found again by us in these days. The things that bury it and conceal it are waiting to be blown off and removed by us.