And so we come to see that living in simplicity goes hand in hand with a life in pursuit of holiness, or sanctifying grace. For if you do a word search of “simplicity” through Wesley’s works, you will quite often find that he speaks of it in relation to Mary’s action of sitting by Jesus feet, drawing deeply from the well of the “one thing” known as intimate discipleship rather than Martha’s actions of being concerned about “many things.”
The bells that tolled, according to John Donne, were a sign to those who heard that we are all mortal and meet the same end known as death; that when one dies a part of all of us dies. The stone that rolled, according to Matthew, was a sign to those who witness it that the end known as death is not, in fact, the end. And therefore, it is okay to send for whom the stone rolls. It rolls for thee! The stone rolls for us! And when we hear the sound of the stone rolling, it rings in our ears that the main thing that draws nearer to us is not death, but resurrection! Triumphant grace! Grace that declares death doesn’t have the final word. But that one day there will be no more crying, no more death…
If we desire that Christ brings us the grace to renew us and breathe new life into us, that admits quite simply that there is something about and in us that is old and dead and in need of being renewed. So, somehow, someway we must come to terms with that in ourselves which isn’t as it ought to be, and to admit that we are not able to make ourselves be what we ought to be on our own.
Simon and Garfunkel quipped that “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sound of silence.” At the beginning of the song, they sang, “hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” Advent meets us in the darkness, in the silence. So do the prophets.