The light outside us grows dimmer; the light within us grows brighter.
Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent (p. 212, The Book of Common Prayer)
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
When I was a child, the December days before Christmas Eve dragged along , and I wanted nothing more than for Christmas to be here now. But my memories of a mid-twentieth century midwestern childhood also include memories of snowball fights, games of fox and geese, feeding birds, tracking animals, and going for evening walks with my dad as the streetlights illuminated big snowflakes falling. It seemed Christmas would never come, but now I realize that the fun of early winter made those days of waiting rich and full.
Our Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent asks God to “speedily” help and deliver us. At Church of the Resurrection in Omaha, we sing “Soon and Very Soon” during Advent. As adults waiting for Christmas, we yearn not only to know more fully Christ’s presence among us, but also for help in amending our own lives so that we are ready to receive Christ when he comes.
The Winter Solstice comes during the Third Week of Advent this year. As we light the pink candles on our Advent wreaths and take up the theme of joy, we know that the light outside will “soon and very soon” begin to slowly but surely grow brighter. We have preparations to finish at home and church this week, but we also have the joys of God’s creation in this time and place to help make these days of waiting rich and full. Taking time just to be outdoors for even a few minutes can feed our souls and prepare us to fully be ready for Jesus. This small pause lends support to the hard work of more fully amending our lives, and helps us remain joyful as we do the work of preparing in all ways for the coming of Jesus. This week we pray:
God the Creator and Sustainer of the world, help us to wait with joyful purpose. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear the beauty and joy of your creation, and give us hearts and minds willing to pause in childlike wonder at the richness of the world around us. Through Jesus Christ who was and is and is to come. 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.