Ad(vent)oration

The darkness of December weighs heavily. Despite the glories of living in Colorado, with its bright blue skies and the heady weight of light during the days, still, December is dark early and late. Dark when we leave in the morning; dark as we drive home from work. The day barely peaks before the long shadows drive the sun to its early rest.

So, we wait. The sun and earth will soon renegotiate their relationship, and the reign of night will yield to more day.

There are, however, actions that can best be done while waiting in a darkened world, and so we must take advantage of the season. Dark, cold, and quiet days make room for remembering. And hoping.

And, I believe, adoring.

We have a vocabulary for the orbit of the heart around the Son of Glory: worship, praise, reverence, awe, devotion. “Adoration” is, perhaps, lower on the useful word list for many Protestants. It has a baroque feel to it, gaudy with gold around the edges and thick with brocade and incense. It’s a rich word, and we Protestants have historically tended to be streamlined and sparse in our artistic approach. To plunge into adoration invites immersion in a sensory-rich, multi-dimensional world of worship. Even in the dark. Even when we’re cold.

Adoring is only possible when an irresistible light shines so brightly that other lights pale. Adoring strikes us to our knees. Adoring empties us from the inside out in yearning and piques our joy with its light alone. Adoring does not need warmth and satiation; it works well with emptiness and longing and hunger.

Adoration of the Lord invites a complete prostration before His worthiness. He and He alone—apart from any showering of blessing—is worthy, oh so worthy; He and He alone, all by Himself, kindles joy. That such a One would exist, so beautiful, so immeasurable, so self-giving, so weighty with mirth and power—this very hope draws us inexorably toward the flickering light in the stable.

“O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

What does that look like? to come adore Him? Leave aside the kneeling shepherds and the stately kings. You. How do you adore Him? How can your Advent journey toward the manger of the Christ Child become a headlong, reckless flight to the altar of God?

An Ad(oration)vent psalm for your adoration work (Psalm 43):

“O send out your light and your truth;

let them lead me;

let them bring me to your holy hill

    and to your dwelling.

Then I will go to the altar of God,

     to God my exceeding joy;

and I will praise you with the harp,

   O God, my God.”

 

Artist Gentile da Fabriano, 1423

About K. Mulhern

Kathleen Mulhern teaches courses in world history, European history, and history of Christianity. She has taught at Denver Seminary, Colorado School of Mines, and Regis University. She particularly focuses on the historical roots of the political, economic, religious, and cultural systems that have contributed to contemporary society.