An Advent Reflection

By Austin Jacobs

Remember, Moses says, the law written in stone, and remember the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, and God spoke to you, a voice in a firestorm calling out in crashes of thunder.

(Read Exodus 24:16-19)

Remember that you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Remember the trumpet’s crescendo, the mountain’s violent quaking.

And remember, Moses continues, how you heard the sound of God’s words but saw no form; there was only a voice. And God declared to you the covenant.

Remember that it was written on two tablets of stone.

Take care to remember that since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, you should not fashion the likeness of any created thing as an object of worship.

(Read Deuteronomy 4:10-15)

Remember the tumult at Horeb, the writer of Hebrews says, a sight so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’

Remember how the Israelites could not endure the order that was given, ‘If any living thing touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’

(Read Hebrews 12:18-21)

Remember the woman caught in adultery.

Remember the men who picked up stones

(Read John 8:1-11).

What did Jesus write on earth? People assume that he wrote down the accusers’ sins. Now why would he do that? They threatened him with Mosaic law, which says that the adulteress must be stoned. That law was written in stone. . . . But He wanted to show them that the written law is empty if it bears no relation to the living. He wrote his signs in sand, in the dust of stones, which the wind might scatter at any moment.

‘Here are your laws,’ His writing said. . . . Mosaic law written in stone and the law of love written in sand. It couldn’t be carved into stone without becoming a dead letter. Every stone they meant to throw at that living woman held letters from the smashed stone tablets. People write in stone to make their letters last. God doesn’t hesitate to cast his word on the wind, since he knows it won’t be lost (Anna Kamienska, “A Nest of Quiet”).

(Read Hebrews 12:22-24).

Remember, the writer of Hebrews continues, you have not come to a blazing fire and darkness and gloom. You have not come to hear the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.

Remember that, instead, you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of the violent.

Remember the dust swept away in the wind, which speaks a better word than the letter carved in stone.

Who is this that comes in splendour, coming from the blazing East?

This is he we had not thought of, this is he the airy Christ (Stevie Smith, “The Airy Christ”)

(Read John 1:14)

What a mystery, we respond, that the Word would become flesh and dwell among us.

What a mystery that we might see his glory in human form, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For mercy has a human heart

Pity, a human face:

And Love, the human form divine

And Peace, the human dress (William Blake, “The Divine Image”)