Daily Reading for November 29 • The First Sunday of Advent
“Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. . . .”
The year begins with a bleak, eerie prayer, uttered in the darkness. The darkness terrifies us. It is no ordinary darkness. The scientists speak of a darkness that has no form or movement or will because it has no existence; it is neither good nor bad because it is nothing at all, the mere absence of light. But this is not the darkness of the scientists. This is a different kind of darkness, an energetic, aggressive malevolence seeking to envelop and consume us. In this darkness the seeds of self-will sprout and grow; they strangle what is left of our health. Cut off from light, we grow accustomed to the darkness; damp, stale air fills our lungs. We have stopped resisting the darkness. Perhaps it is normal, inevitable. Perhaps it is simply the way things are.
But God, I know that it need not be so. The darkness has not yet claimed every corner, and I can still dream of a different place and time. We all dream of it. We dream of a garden where we walk with you in the light of day, of a time of contentment with you and all your creatures. The dream is distant but clear. We long for it, as for a blessing remembered from long ago, from before we had succumbed to the works of darkness.
We would cast away the works of darkness, O God, but we lack the strength. And so we pray to you: “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.” We are helpless; the power to cast away the works of darkness must come from outside ourselves. It must come from you, O God. We beg for your grace, the power that you give to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. That is what we pray for, O God—grace to begin again.
From A Gracious Rain: A Devotional Commentary on the Prayers of the Church Year by Richard H. Schmidt. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with thanks to Vicki K Black
I will try to blog through this Advent, since it seems to me to be an Advent which, for many different reasons, some public, some not, is of particular significance. We have heard a rumour of grace, but around us is all darkness. We walk at night, in fog; and we have heard the sea echoing somewhere far below us.