Awake, O sleeper – 10 December 2018
The young mother has been caring for her child. She has fed it, tucked it into bed, and rocked it to sleep. Her hand remains on the cradle. As the little child finally rests, the mother falls into an exhausted sleep. The child has been cared for, but she does not have sufficient time to care for herself. Her own clothes are grubby, the table top shows the meal she has not cleared away. There is no sense of anyone else around to help her.
This a picture of exhaustion, a picture for those who care for others day after day after day, without respite. If we are moved by compassion for this young woman, then we should be moved to help. Calling her to wake should be a commitment to assistance.
In advent the church calls to all to ‘wake up’. Those who wake to hardships will need assistance if they are to remain awake in hope.
The picture is by the Norwegian naturalist artist Christian Krohg (Sleeping mother with child, 1883), inspired by the realism art movement in Scandinavia.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:1-2, 10-11
It is time for us to wake out of sleep,
for deliverance is nearer to us now
than it was when first we believed.
It is far on in the night; day is near.
Let us therefore cast off the deeds of darkness
and put on our armour as soldiers of the light.
Common Worship, Advent liturgy