The light outside us grows dimmer; the light within us grows brighter.
Collect for the First Sunday of Advent (p. 211, The Book of Common Prayer)
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.
Outdoors it's late fall. The days grow shorter and the sun lies low in the sky. We know with certainty, though, both that longer days and brighter light lie ahead and exactly when the winter solstice will bring the gradual return of the light, but still sometimes the weeks of darkness seem unending.
Our situation with climate change caused by global warming can seem hopeless when we look at the scientific data and the global and national political situation. Unlike our knowledge of the returning natural light, we have no certain knowledge that better days lie ahead. Any genuine hope in this case is deep hope, hope that something better and brighter than the most likely outcome -- and perhaps something even better and brighter than anything we can imagine -- will come to pass. In these waning days, we pray a prayer of hope:
O God of all power and all goodness, the days are dark and our future seems uncertain. Send us in this season of Advent deep hope and the will to do what we must to help that hope become a real possibility. We ask that even when it seems foolish, you give us wisdom to put on the armor of light so all can live in hope of a future when humankind and all living things both not only live, but flourish. In the name of Jesus, the true light of the world who is not overcome by the darkness. 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.