Advent Favorites — John Henry Newman: To Watch with Christ

Originally posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2005

To Watch with Christ: John Henry Newman

Filed under: Advent Devotionals — Karen B.

To watch with Christ
A reading from John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, 19th century


Let us consider this most serious question – What is it to watch with Christ? I consider this word watching a remarkable word; remarkable because the idea is not so obvious as might appear at first sight, and next because our Lord and his disciples inculcate it. We are not simply to believe, but to watch; not simply to love, but to watch; not simply to obey, but to watch; to watch for what? For that great event, Christ’s coming…

Now what is watching?

I conceive it may be explained as follows: Do you know the feeling in matters of this life, of expecting a friend, expecting him to come, and he delays? Do you know what it is to be in unpleasant company, and to wish for the time to pass away, and the hour strike when you may be at liberty? Do you know what it is to be in anxiety lest something should happen which may happen or not, or to be in suspense about some important event, which makes your heart beat when you are reminded of it, and of which you think the first thing in the morning? Do you know what it is to have a friend in a distant country, to expect news of him, to wonder from day to day what he is now doing, and whether he is well? Do you know what it is so to live upon a person who is present with you, that your eyes follow his, that you read his soul, that you see all its changes in his countenance, that you anticipate his wishes, that you smile his smile, and are sad in his sadness, and are downcast when he is vexed, and rejoice in his successes? To watch for Christ is a feeling such as these; as far as feelings of this world are fit to shadow out those of another.

He watches with Christ, who, while he looks on to the future, looks back on the past, and does not so contemplate what his Saviour has purchased for him, as to forget what he has suffered for him. He watches with Christ, who ever commemorates and renews in his own person Christ’s cross and agony, and gladly takes up that mantle of affliction which Christ wore here, and left behind him when he ascended. And hence in the Epistles, as often as the inspired writers show their desire for his second coming, so often do they show their memory of his first, and never lose sight of his crucifixion and in his resurrection.



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