The beginning of the Christian year is not on Christmas day.
interpreted by Deborah
Holy God, I’m depending on You.
Don’t let me down.
Don’t let my faith be misplaced, don’t let my enemies win the day. Don’t let those who trust in You live in sorrow; instead, let the evildoers be filled with grief at the collapse of their schemes.
Give me eyes to see Your way, O Illuminator; show me the path I should follow. Reveal Your truth to me; let it shine forth like the sun at its rising.
Light of my Soul, I am waiting.
Stand fast, Almighty One; hold to the promise You made long ago of mercy and forgiveness. Overlook my youthful slip ups and my innocent mistakes; ignore my failings and my flailings and intentional misdeeds: focus on Your faithful love, instead.
God is good and fair and just; teaching rather than punishing, forgiving rather than condemning. Those with compassionate hearts and generous natures are traveling along the Holy Way.
OK, I admit it, Lord, I’m not remotely close to the kind of person that I should be; but Your love — in its power and its glory — is greater than all our sins.
Refresh my spirit, O Life-giver; wash away my cynicism, my hatred, and my fears; put in me a new heart, a new mind, new confidence and new courage. Set my feet firmly on the path of grace and truth.
Teach me to be Your friend.
I really need some help now, God; I’m sad and sick and lonely. Look at the state I’m in and what I’m up against. I don’t know how much longer I can go on.
Protect me, O Savior, don’t let me fall into despair, don’t let me fail, don’t let me down. I’m putting my trust in You.
And so I wait. Not idly, not in hiding, but in courageous expectation, I wait.
With integrity and goodness, O Lord, Your people will find a way through all our troubles.
Guide us, O Gracious Light, in the way that we should go.
We have entered the Season of Advent; the start of a new year in our liturgical calendar. It may seem odd that the Christian year doesn’t begin with the birth of our Lord, but, like our Jewish cousins who count each day as beginning with the night that precedes it, we endure a period of dark-filled days before the arrival of the Light of the World.
We begin our year not with celebration, but anticipation. We wait and we watch. And we wait and watch throughout the darkest time of the year; when the light grows dimmer and the days grow shorter.
It’s not exactly the most hope-filled of times to be awaiting a new beginning, sitting here in the gathering dark. I drew the drapes and switched on the lamp above my desk at four in the afternoon — so different from summer (was it really such a short time ago?) when traces of sunlight were still visible at 8:30 at night.
It’s hard to be optimistic as things grow darker.
It’s hard to be courageous when we can’t clearly see what’s ahead of us.
It’s hard to be hopeful here in the gathering dark.
And that’s OK.
There is an important inference to be drawn from our postponed celebration. That we must wait in the darkness is an exceptionally wise and truthful message.
It takes time to achieve what is worthwhile, it takes patience and persistence and, above all, it takes faith. God’s gracious kingdom is a work-in-progress, not a city that falls from heaven, ready-made (despite what the author of Revelation might dream).
To endure and succeed requires that we have a vision of how the world should be, and we must have faith that it can happen. We have to believe in what we do not yet see.
For those who live in darkness, light seems like an impossible concept. But for those who carry the Light within them, there is no darkness that cannot be overcome.
And so it is, as we wait for Christmas; one day at a time, one hour at a time, each minute and moment brings us nearer to the brighter days. The changes are slight, hardly noticeable, but they are taking place, gradually, steadily, persistently.
The Christian year begins not with brilliant illumination, but within the gathering darkness. During this time we are called to the practice of waiting and watching, of believing and envisioning.P>
Advent is a season for quiet reflection, for giving consideration to what we ought to do, and what we can do to build up the love-infused kingdom that our Lord proclaimed.
Let us pray that the radiance of Christ fill our lives throughout this Season. May our hearts grow warmer, our courage greater, our faith stronger — each day: gradually, steadily, persistently. For those who live in darkness, we can be bearers of the Light.
Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,
Reflect on this Scripture passage:
In Him was life, and that life was the light of all humanity. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not, will not, and never shall overcome it.
~ 1 John 1:4-5