By Brooke Holt
“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.” – Book of Common Prayer, Year C, The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent
Happy New Year! No, you haven’t missed December; we are just about there, so get ready! As the calendar year is coming to an end, the church year has just begun. And like every new year, there is great hope and anticipation of what is ahead of us. For the Church, the new year begins with the season of Advent. In this season of Advent, we celebrate the first coming of Jesus and more importantly we long and prepare for the second coming of Jesus. This longing is stirred up in us as we remember God’s faithfulness to his promises. Not one promise has been broken or forgotten! Though, it took thousands of years for the first coming of the Messiah, he came just as God had foretold. Now, it seems to be taking thousands of years for his return, yet we know he will come again.
What is a person to do while he or she waits? Our Collect for this week provides that much-needed instruction. First, you are to cast away the works of the darkness. In John’s Gospel, he writes about the coming of Jesus Christ to dwell among us: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). If Jesus came to bring you light, why would you sit in darkness or even have anything to do with the darkness? Darkness is associated with this world, Satan, and all his evil work. As Christians, we are to turn from Satan and all those works of darkness and to live in God’s holy and perfect light.
This instruction sounds just as easy as going to the gym three times a week and eating a diet filled with vegetables and fruit—much easier said than done. Getting to the gym three times a week takes discipline, planning, and intentionality. Eating healthy meals requires the same things. To cast away the works of darkness takes that same kind of spiritual discipline, planning, and intentionality all working together under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. By God’s grace there is help for those who seek it.
Beyond casting off darkness, the Collect then instructs you to put on the armor of light. This prayer comes directly from Paul’s words in Romans 13:12: “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Paul was admonishing the Romans to live sober-mindedly, to live faithfully despite all the worldliness surrounding them, and in doing so to be ready for the second coming of the Lord. Now, the Lord is calling you to do the same.
The world is deceptively appealing. You only have turn on the TV to realize that. There are promises for happiness and fulfillment in the right cars, vacations, lifestyles, fitness regimens, and clothes. If you just buy what they are selling and embrace their ideology, then all your troubles will fade away and your fairytale life will begin.
Jesus taught a different way: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). As the new year and celebration of Advent begins, it is the ideal time to consider what you are embracing and what you are wearing. The appropriate attire for Advent is the armor of light. May we turn from darkness and be covered, filled, and transformed by the light of Christ!
How is the Lord calling you to cast off the darkness and to put on the armor of light this Advent season? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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