Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Although Advent marks the first fresh days of a new church year, sometimes I find myself mired in the waning weeks of the calendar. Instead of sugar plums, visions of to-do lists dance in my head, keeping me awake at night. When I need an Advent antidote, a way to break the cycle of doing and get myself back in synch with this season of expectant waiting, I turn to the service of Compline.
From the opening prayer that God may grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end to the comforting words of Jesus that are both today’s gospel lesson and a scripture choice for this service of nighttime prayer, the rhythm of Compline enables me to let go of my burdens and fall asleep with renewed hope for the coming day. Perhaps it’s the reminder that I am the apple of God’s eye that allows me to shush my inner critic and give myself permission to rest rather than focusing on regrets. Or the gorgeous words of St. Augustine’s prayer that meet me wherever I am at the time—working or watching, weary or joyous.
Compline ends with the song of Simeon, the words of that faithful servant who held the Christ child in the temple and proclaimed him the light of the world. This Advent as we await the coming light, may God guide us waking and sleeping, so that awake we may watch and work as the body of Christ in the world, and asleep we may rest in peace.