There is a wonderfully poignant and deceptively simple Advent idea embedded in a line from T.S. Eliot’s fourth poem of his Four Quartets (1943):
“We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”
The Missouri-born Eliot wrote to strengthen the English-speaking peoples during World War Two. In this one line the poet returned to a central theme in the four collected poems that make up The Four Quartets: the. The concept of time and eternity. His affirmation is the wonder of wonders that must be reclaimed, renewed, proclaimed, and celebrated: that in Jesus Christ everything old is new again. Of course, this was the message of St. Paul to the church at Corinth:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Authorized Version).
In this season of Advent and Christmas the wonder of Christ’s birth—fully God, fully Man, born of a virgin, the Son of God—, His sinless life, His miraculous ministry, His atoning death for our sins, His glorious resurrection, His appearance to over five hundred before His Ascension to His coronation and reign—soon to return—, changes everything. Mostly, this Good News, this Gospel, changes us. We are reborn to a world where we have been before, but now, in Christ, everything old is new again. To quote Eliot again, we “. . . arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”
This is the glory and the joy and the miraculous possibilities of this beautiful season.
My family and I wish you a most joyous and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and commend you all to our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
MICHAEL A. MILTON, PhD
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