Advent 3 – We see the Light and clap our hands

Written by Dr. Wayne Brouwer /
December 19, 2023

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Dance in the Desert. Madeleine L’Engle’s book is too dark for children, too simple for adults, too deep for theologians, and just right for everyone.

She tells of a young couple on a desert journey through wilderness in a rough caravan. They are on their way to Egypt. Someone is after them; someone wants to kill their little boy.
The journey is a rugged one. The desert is alive with ferocious beasts. All eyes cast about uneasily as darkness settles. There will be little sleep in the camp tonight. They build a great fire to drive back the shadows and keep away the world that belongs to monsters with glowing eyes. Suddenly they start in terror; a great lion appears at the bonfire. The mother reaches for her child, desperately trying to draw him to safety.

But the child stands and laughs. He opens his arms wide to the lion. The lion lifts his front paws and hops around on his hind legs. He’s dancing! And then, from the desert, come running several little mice and two donkeys and a snake and a couple of clumsy ostriches. Three great eagles swoop in from the purple skies. On the other side of the camp a unicorn emerges, and a pelican, and even two dragons.

They all bow before the child and then dance together, round and round him. He stands at the center of their great circle, laughing in delight. It’s a dance in the desert, as L’Engle calls it. In essence, it is the sum and substance of our worship here on earth, pilgrims passing through the wilderness of ghastly beasties and mournful hurts.

This is the third Sunday in Advent. Christmas seems close, but we are not there yet. We still spend time in the dark alongside those who wrestle with demons and shadows and beasties. But because of Advent confidence, we see the Light, and clap our hands in celebration of the Child who comes to dance around our fires.


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