In Advent we remember the absence of God — not to despair as though he were fully absent, but to hope for his fuller presence. Four hundred years of divine silence preceded the Exodus, and then the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Four hundred years of divine silence preceded the Word’s becoming flesh and dwelling — tabernacle-ing — among us. For so God loved the world, dark though it was.
In the Revelation to St John, the heavenly herald declared (21.3-4):
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
The second promise — that God will scour us with all the old Creation –we do not yet see fulfilled. And long we have waited for it. Yet we know it is true, because the first promise was fulfilled, in the sight of unlikely but faithful witnesses, whose eyes had been tested almost to the limit in looking for God-With-Us, the glory of Israel and light to the nations.