The light outside us grows dimmer; the light within us grows brighter.
Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent (p. 211, The Book of Common Prayer)
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Some of today’s prophets are scientists and environmentalists who warn us of the long-term dangers of pollution and overconsumption. From the growing problem of plastic pollution to using unsustainable amounts of resources to our dependence on fossil fuels that are extracted from the earth in ways that endanger land, water, and human health before emitting carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming, these prophets warn us that our actions endanger us, future generations, and other living things.
“Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation,” according to the Catechism in The Book of Common Prayer. By that definition, our disregard for the environment is indeed sinful. Our repentance this Advent season requires us to examine our neglect of the environment that sustains life on this earth and to change our way of life so we are better stewards of the gift of God’s creation.
Advent is also a time when a walk outside can reveal much to bring us joy: winter birds, sometimes footprints in the snow, soft pink light at sunset, and dazzling stars at night. When we look around and notice the wonders all around us, we realize that repentance returns us to a place of great love and great joy in God’s creation.
This week we pray:
Merciful God, you have sent us prophets in the form of scientists and environmental advocates who can teach us how to better care for the gift of your creation that sustains every living thing on the earth. Help us to better hear them and learn from them, that we can continue to find joy in your creation and pass along the gift of your creation to future generations. Give us penitent hearts and such joy in your creation that our desire is to do what is right. We pray this in the name of the Son that you sent to live among us because you so loved the world. Amen.
A note about these Advent offerings:
The focus of the Diocese of Nebraska’s Creation Community this year is to create and pray daily prayers appropriate to each liturgical season that remember the natural environment. Our intention is not only to add these prayers to our own regular daily prayers so we know that others in our little community are praying with us, but also to offer them for use by others in the diocese in their daily prayers. For each week of Advent, we are offering a short reflection and prayer.
It seems especially important this year to remember both the firm and proven expectation that the natural light will indeed grow brighter and also our deeper hope that metaphorically brighter days will return at a time we can’t pinpoint. Because we live in Christian hope, even as the light outside us grows dimmer, our inner light shines brighter against the darkness.