Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by John Bosworth.]
“But in those Days…” We’ve all had those days. Haven’t we?
You know, those days when the unexpected happens. When the phone rings at midnight. When the test results come back from the lab. When the relationship crumbles. Those days when there are only questions, and no answers. We’ve all had those days, when our lives are disrupted by darkness and nothing makes sense.
In those moments, everything changes. The world as we know it ends. We are no longer in control. As the text says, the lights go out, “…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” In those difficult times, when our lives appear to be falling apart- the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, the loss of all that is safe and familiar and comfortable- what, or who, will guide us when the lesser lights that normally illumine our lives no longer light the way?
Advent reminds us that if we are patient, and we give our eyes time to adjust, we will see that we have not been abandoned in the darkness. And when we lose our patience and throw up our hands and cry out like Isaiah, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,” we are reminded that God does just that. Advent invites us to look, and long for the God who whispers our name in the dark and painful parts of our lives. In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “Darkness is shorthand for anything that scares me – either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The problem is this: when despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life, plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, I have not died. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
Darkness is not our enemy. Falling asleep is our enemy. We fall asleep when hope gives way to despair, when busyness robs us of presence, and when fear masquerades as courage. There’s always the danger of falling asleep, of allowing the darkness to deceive us into thinking that there is nothing worth waiting for or worse, allowing the darkness to deceive us into thinking there is No One worth waiting for. During Advent, we wait for the God who not only offers solutions, but promises His presence. His healing. His comfort. His grace. His mercy. His love. And at Christmas, He comes and offers us Himself. In fact, Isaiah delivers a message from this God: “I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” “Stay Awake,” Jesus warns us. And if we do, we “will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.”
At Advent, we wait and worship the God who does some
of his best work in the darkness. It is there we learn that God is not absent in our suffering, but instead, He suffers along with us. He offers sight to the blind, comfort to the mourning, strength to the weak, and in the darkest of times He offers His hand, and if we take it He leads us into the light.
Respond: [Put your prayer into action throughout the day.]
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4-5
Who do you know that is in the midst of a crises, a “dark season of the soul?” Ask God how you can be a light in their darkness, and take a simple step towards them today.