December 2009 - Vol. 35
by John Henry Newman
Once only in the year, yet once, does the world which we see show forth its hidden powers, and in a manner manifest itself. Then the leaves come out, and the blossoms on the fruit trees and flowers; and the grass and corn spring up. There is a sudden rush and burst outwardly of that hidden life which God has lodged in the material world. Well, that shows you, as by a sample, what it can do at God's command, when he gives the word. This earth, which now buds forth in leaves and blossoms, will one day burst forth into a new world of light and glory, in which we shall see saints and angels dwelling. Who would think, except from his experience of former springs all through his life, who could conceive two or three months before, that it was possible that the face of nature, which then seemed so lifeless, should become so splendid and varied?...
So it is with the coming of that Eternal Spring for which all Christians are waiting. Come it will, though it delay; yet though it tarry, let us wait for it, “because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Therefore we say day by day, “Your kingdom come,” which means, “O Lord, show yourself; manifest yourself; you who sit between the cherubim, show yourself; stir up your strength and come and help us” (Psalm 80). The earth that we see does not satisfy us. What we see is the outward shell of an eternal kingdom; and on that kingdom we fix the eyes of our faith.
Shine forth, O Lord, as when on your Nativity your angels visited the shepherds; let your glory blossom forth as bloom and foliage on the trees. Bright as is the sun, and the sky, and the clouds; green as are the leaves and the fields; sweet as is the singing of the birds; we know that they are not all, and we will not take up with a part for the whole. They proceed from a center of love and goodness, which is God himself; but they are not his fullness; they speak of heaven, but they are not heaven; they are but as stray beams and dim reflections of his image; they are but the crumbs from the table.
article is excerpted from the Parochial and Plain Sermons - John Henry
Newman, first published by Longman, Green, and Company, London and
New York, 1891.].
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