Did you catch it? The Supermoon of 2016. The moon will never be closer to earth, they say, for another 18 years. The cloudy sky over Virginia that morning totally blocked the view, but thanks to modern technology, I was able to view this astronomical wonder by TV, though also a bit distracted by the ordinariness of the setting. I was in the podiatrist’s office with my mother waiting with a dozen or so disinterested patients eager to remove their shoes, but not because they perceived this was holy ground.
The massive orb hung, a surreal pinkish-grey, against the diminutive skyline of some more fortunate American city, on the morning of November 14, unsettling in its size.
Like a banner at the closing of our ordinary days, it seemed to announce that the coming of the King is near. We were a week past the most contentiously fought general election of our nation’s history, and a week before the Sunday on the Church’s liturgical calendar designated, the Feast of Christ The King.
My leading to observe a 40-day Advent could not have been more appropriately placed. I needed to be caught up again in His-Story. The world was way too much with me. As all over college campuses and the dis-appointed media fear was ‘mongered’, others, who looked to man for deliverance, rejoiced, giddy with baseless glee. Basking in the residual moonlight as my first contemplative act of the 40 days, I pressed my soul to consider the real King.
The nearness of a ruling monarch is often cast as a prospect to be feared. Heads could roll ( think Esther), irrevocable words could be uttered to your detriment (think Daniel), for choosing to appeal in person to Caesar (think Paul). History books record tales of streets being cleared of all the sick, lame and poor in preparation for the visit of French and Russian monarchs – nothing to disturb the monarch’s fragile sensibilities or present less than a picture of prosperity and successful reign.
I recall, from the days of my own childhood, the visit of a representative of the British Crown to my own island home of Jamaica. Oh the fixing of roads! the whitewashing of sidewalks and tree trunks! the relocating of sidewalk vendors and ‘sprucing ups’ of the things of our ordinary, everyday lives, to make them appear pleasing, presentable to the Crown.
How different is the coming of The King of Kings whose nearness is our good. Kimberlee Conway Ireton, in her wonderful book on devotionally observing the Church’s liturgical year, The Circle of Seasons, describes the final Sunday before Advent, the Feast of Christ the King, as…
“…a time to celebrate the day when Christ’s great love will be fully realized on earth, the day when our King will return. He will right all wrongs. He will judge the living and the dead. He will bind up the brokenhearted…give sight to the blind…heal the lame…set the prisoners free…establish justice once and for all, justice tempered with mercy so that all life might flourish under His reign.”
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
As I peered up from my bedroom window, 4:00 am the following morning, at the diminished but no less beautiful supermoon, another thought that gained entry was a hymn frequently sung in the church of my childhood, “I am Thine, O Lord’, which refrains, ‘Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord…’.
Written by Fanny Crosby & William Doane (1820-1915/1832-1915
), after the two had spent the evening observing a glorious sunset and discussing the nearness of God in their lives, (keeping in mind Crosby’s complete blindness!!), I was intrigued by her words in the stanza which reads,
“There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross that narrow sea
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee”
Yet there is so much of His love and joy that is already accessible, in both Creation’s testimony and its groans of longing for the revelation of the sons and daughters of God – (Romans 1:20/8:19). By these – glorious sunsets or full moons, from the days of our first separation in Eden, and now, through His Son, Jesus – God invites,
“Draw near to (Him) and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a)
The tune of supermoon’s song, against the din of mankind’s strivings, soothed my soul. Other than testifying that Earth is still “cramm’d with heaven”, its quiet yet awe-inspiring rising, terrible in its beauty and nearness, invoked the King’s own promise:
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32, NKJV).
Hear the tune; hear the words and even if you don’t whitewash your tree trunks this Advent, at least take off your shoes and let’s,
“… draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
This King’s nearness is our good.