John of the Cross, renewer of the church, 1591
1 Corinthians 2:1-10a
No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God — his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. (1 Corinthians 2:7, NLT)
As we approach the shortest day of the year, it seems fitting that we pause to remember John of the Cross, a figure whose most important contribution to the church is a reflection on the relationship between darkness and love. The Dark Night of the Soul is a classic of medieval spirituality which seeks to encourage those who experience God’s absence to recognize God’s presence in their very yearning. Put another way: for John, the recognition that God seems distant is, in fact, the evidence of God’s Spirit at work. This tension also describes the tension of Advent. Our yearning for Christ’s coming is a sign of Christ’s presence among us, and our hope in the renewal of all things is met by the in-breaking of God’s promised reign in our midst here and now. This is a great mystery, but it is that mystery which keeps us from falling to despair. Christ has come. Christ is here. Christ is coming again. Thanks be to God!
Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John, through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life. Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit, whose voices will give strength to the church and proclaim the reality of your reign, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (From Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 60)
– The Editors