TS Eliot and Advent
In the lectionary readings for Advent, we look forward to Jesus’ birth by reflecting on the prophecies of his return. The first coming and the second coming are shown to be two acts in the same play, two chapters in the same story. Beginnings and endings have relationships that often go unnoticed. In my sermon this Sunday, I am drawing some inspiration from TS Eliot’s Four Quartets. I am reminded of CS Lewis, who points out that the Father, who exists outside of time, must have seen the crucifixion present in the incarnation and birth of the Son. It follows that the 2nd coming, then, was imagined even at the first. In His beginning is our end. As I will tell the saints on Sunday, get ready!
In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die; there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where thefield-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
(TS. Eliot, “East Coker” in Four Quartets)