Left His seamless robe behind
Woke up in a stable and cried
Lived and died and rose again
Savior for a guilty land
It’s a story like a children’s tune
It’s grown familiar as the moon
“There’s Only One (Holy One)”
Written by Randall Goodgame, performed by Caedmon’s Call)
A few nights ago I was driving up Franklin Road with the top down. It was a clear, unseasonably warm November night. The moon, high and bright, seemed to chase me over the hilltops. My car stereo was cranked up loud; my iPod shuffled to Caedmon’s Call performing “There’s Only One (Holy One).”
The story of Christ, summed up so beautifully in word and music, unearthed a surge of emotion. It started in my gut and welled up through my throat into my eyes. Those true words: “it’s a story like a children’s tune; it’s grown familiar as the moon” seemed to flow in me.
That moon–the one the band sang about, the one that chased me–is as ancient as anything I know. But the One who crafted it and set it spinning is more ancient still. His story was the first of stories, the one that started them all. All our stories, even the story of the moon, will culminate in his great ending. That great ending will be Christ’s Second Advent.
As far as I can tell, the Church has told the story of Advent for 1631 years. Surely we have told it for longer, since the earliest days of the Church. I mean that by about 380 A.D. the Latin speaking Church had begun to observe this time of preparation before the Christmas Festival.
Consider that for a moment. 1631 years. More than eighty generations of Christians gathering on Sundays, and throughout the week, telling again and again the story of the Second Coming of Christ.
Yes, I meant to say “Second Coming.” For that is what Advent is about, at least in part, certainly in these early days of the season. But it’s Christmas time, why tell that terrifying story? When you’ve been waiting for something for a long time, it can be easy to forget what you are waiting for, or that you are waiting at all. When you’ve been waiting for someone to come back for 380 years? 2000 years? It may be that you need to set aside some time to remind yourself.
The story we tell every Advent, like the story we tell every Sunday, is an old one. It is familiar like a children’s tune, like the moon. But it must be told again. We share the story of Advent every year at this time. We share it with the older generations as well as our children and grandchildren. We share it to remember whom we are waiting for. We share it to remind one another to wait with hope. We share it because it is worth sharing, worth repeating, worth telling. As familiar as the story is, it is still true. And one day, one of these Advents will be the last one.[audio:TheresOnlyOne.mp3]
Thomas McKenzie is the author of The Anglican Way, a book he describes as a traveler’s guide to the Anglican tradition, as well as The Harpooner, an Advent reader featuring harpoons—how awesome is that. He graduated from the University of Texas and attended seminary at the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1998 and planted the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville in 2004, where he is the still pastor. He’s also keeps samurai swords in his office, and wears a skull ring.