Five years ago, on August 5, 2010, there was a collapse in a mine in Chili. From that point forward, 33 miners remained in darkness, not knowing if they would ever be saved or if their rescuers would even find them. Five years later, there was a book and a movie written about the event. I do not know if you remember what happened five years ago. All we could see was what was happening from above the mine. As we watched the news, we did not know if they were alive or even if they could be saved. Rescuers were drilling. The miners were down in the mine for 69 days in darkness until they were rescued.
I will never forget watching the day they were rescued. The first miner was brought up in a cage. We saw a glimpse of one of the 33 who had been down there for all those days. Five years later, a movie has been made about the event. "The 33" is a movie about the 33 miners. For me, what I think is so profound, is that we get to see a glimpse of what it was like from their perspective. What it was like to be in darkness for 69 days! How it was to wait to see if they would even be rescued.
They only had enough water and food to survive for 3 days with provisions for only 30 of the 33 men. So they began to ration food and water. Days and days passed. After three days, they were out of food. They began to question: “Would anyone come to save them?” Then one of the miners, pessimistically said, "Listen, mines have collapsed before. We have a corrupt government. We have a corrupt business that put us down here in the mine in the first place. We are not going to get rescued." To that another piped up, "Our family members are up there. They are not going to give up on us." What the miners didn't know was that their families had created Camp Hope, an effort to instill hope in the government and the entire world to continue efforts to rescue the miners.
Down there days in the darkness, not knowing -doubt started to creep in. They were not sure if they would be rescued in time, but they believed and trusted that their families would not give up on them.
Then one night, as they are sleeping, they heard a rumbling and some of the ceiling began to fall. The ground began to shake. They heard the drill coming closer and closer and closer. They were listening with great anticipation, and then the noise passed them, going deeper and deeper, farther and farther away. They realized the drill missed them. Another 3 days passed by, but they realized that people had not given up on finding them alive and were still looking for them!
30 days passed. They heard from above the drilling. Again, the ground is shaking. It was similar to the Gospel because they were all laying down and sleeping. As the drill got closer and closer, they started to stand up. They stood erect, like we heard in the Gospel. You could see their headlamps all coming together. They were just looking up at the ceiling. All of a sudden, after all of the rumbling, they saw the drill finally break through! There was a spotlight on the drill. As it broke through, the light shattered the darkness. The drill bit came through and stopped once it hit the "protected area" that the miners were in, and they looked back at it with disbelief, the realization setting in that they had been found. The miners spray painted the drill bit red so that the people above would know they were alive, and taped a message on it that read "33 men, well and alive!" I do not know if you remember, but that is the first sign the world had that the miners were down there and they were alive.
For the miners, once they saw the initial drill bit, once they saw light break through, they knew there were people who were going to rescue them. For me, that is a wonderful image of Christ. That Christ has already broken into our world. He has already brought the light into our world. We know that God will rescue us.
The reality is, for every Advent, there are actually three Advents that we are remembering and celebrating. The first Advent happened 2,000 years ago. When Jesus came into the world, they had been waiting for millennia, for the Savior to come into the world. That was the First Advent and the First Coming into the world.
The Second Advent is right now. This Advent Season of the four weeks of Advent, we are waiting for Christ to come into our hearts -- right now -- in a new way.
The third and final Advent is the Second Coming. That is what we heard about in all the Readings today. These Apocryphal Readings are about the Second Coming when Christ will come into our world with power and glory. At that time, the Heavens and the Earth will shake and those who believe will stand erect because they know their Savior is at hand. That is what we are all awaiting. We have already been given that initial sign. The drill has already come through. Christ has already entered into our world. We know that we are going to be rescued by God. That makes the waiting so much easier because we know we have not been forgotten. The reality is we are still in that “mine”. We are in the “protected area” which is the Church. We still need to be rescued. For each of us, we probably struggle with some darkness, sin, and oppression. Something from which we need to be saved. Christ has already entered into our lives. The promise is that Salvation is on its way. The promise for those of us that believe, waiting and standing erect this Advent season, and looking for Christ in His Second Coming, Redemption is at hand. Our Savior is coming for us. Rescue is on its way.