“ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy 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 quick and [the]* dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.“
– Collect for First Sunday of Advent, 1928 Book of Common Prayer
This has been a season of darkness. There is really no way to understand this. For the past few months the darkness that looms over our nation has intensified. Everything from the political gridlock, to Black Friday fights, to the deaths of Black men at the hands of police officers, to the violent riots that ensued shortly thereafter. This darkness, is the darkness of selfishness, greed, and corruption that our nation has embraced since we decided that our individual wants and desires outweigh the common good. When we decided that God does not have a place in all aspects of our lives, this is the result.
The season of Advent is a penitential season. We are to reflect on our lives as we anticipate the arrival of the Christ child via the Blessed Virgin Mother as depicted in the above icon. I have tried to use this time to reflect on my shortcomings not only as a priest & chaplain, but also as a child of God, a Christian. I ask myself three questions:
– Have I preached the Gospel to all nations, teaching the masses?
– Have I showed Christ-like love to others, by displaying empathy to ALL, not just those I agree with?
– Have I taken steps to grow closer to God?
I can honestly say I made progress, but I still have a long way to go. It’s not easy, but God never said that it would be. I urge you to ask yourself these three questions rather than picking a “side” in a spiritual battle of darkness where all are destined to lose somehow. The only winner in this equation is Christ.
– Fr. JMH