The Coming of the Bridegroom

All the candles of the Advent wreath are lit.  The house is decked out, the trees are trimmed.  The cookies are baked.

Are you ready for the coming of the Bridegroom?

No, that wasn't a typo.  "But, sister, doesn't Jesus come to us as a little baby at Christmas?"

Then why do we sing Advent songs such as "Wake, O Wake, and Sleep No Longer"?

Wake, O wake, and sleep no longer,
For he who calls you is no stranger;
Awake, God's own Jerusalem!
Hear, the midnight bells are chiming
The signal for his royal coming:
Let voice to voice announce his name!
We feel his footsteps near,
The Bridegroom at the door--
Alleluia! The lamps will shine
With light divine
As Christ the savior comes to reign.

Zion hears the sound of singing;
Our hearts are thrilled with sudden longing;
She stirs, and wakes, and stands prepared.
Christ, her friend, and lord, and lover,
Her star and sun and strong redeemer--
At last his mighty voice is heard.
The Son of God has come
To make with us his home:
Sing Hosanna! The fight is won,
The feast begun;
We fix our eyes on Christ alone.

Jesus comes as a Jewish bridegroom!  In ancient Jewish tradition, after a couple was betrothed they were separated for about a year until the wedding.  The man went to his father's house to build a place for him and his bride to live.  The woman spent the time preparing by learning how to be a wife and mother.  When the groom's father gave his stamp of approval, it was time to get the bride.  At midnight, on a day unknown to the woman, she would be woken by the sound of a shofar(a horn) and a shout: "The Bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him!"  Having her wedding garments on hand, the woman could get ready at a moment's notice.  When she went out to meet her fiancee they would be crowned, for they were considered king and queen during the celebration of their wedding.  Jesus comes, not only as a Bridegroom, but as a King.

Advent is all about preparing.  Yes, we remember the first coming of Christ, but more importantly, we are reminded to be prepared for this second coming.  Christ also speaks as the bridegroom before he ascended into heaven:

"In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be." (Jn 14:2-3)
 "...stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Mt 25:13)

Baby, Bridegroom, King - any way you look at it Jesus came to take us to himself, to reunite us, the Bride, with himself, the Bridegroom.  

In one of his poems, St. John of the Cross imagines the conversation between the Father and the Son before the incarnation: "In perfect love this law holds: that the lover become like the one he loves; for the greater their likeness the greater their delight. Surely your bride's delight would greatly increase were she to see you like her, in her own flesh".

And so, the divine bridegroom came as a lovable, irresistible baby, starting out in the same way we all did, so that He could win our love and trust.


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