The light outside us grows dimmer; the light within us grows brighter.
Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (p, 212, The Book of Common Prayer)
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
With Christmas Eve on Sunday this year, we have only a few hours to experience the Fourth Week of Advent and prepare ourselves before beginning our celebration of Christmas. Already sunset is a minute later than it was at the Winter Solstice on Thursday. Though winter’s chill remains awhile more, the light outside us will soon be noticeably brighter. The darkest days are behind us for another year; the inner light we’ve been kindling in our journey through Advent continues to glow, soon to be matched by brighter light outdoors.
As we pray this Sunday for God to purify our conscience, we might consider how we can more justly share God’s gifts to us so that the poorest people among us might not only live, but thrive. Our nations and institutions need some deep, systemic changes so that that the earth, worn down like the poor by our greed and selfishness, can be renewed and restored. Working for justice for all is daunting at this point of our history, but we know that just when the days get darkest, the light becomes more apparent. Advent prepares us to recognize and embrace the Light that is born on Christmas and to count on God's promises, and our faith in Jesus in turn gives us strength for the work of environmental justice.
God of hope and promise, forgive us for squandering our gifts in ways that cause suffering for others. Help the approaching light to shine so brightly in our hearts that we happily change our ways so that all your children can share in the bounty of your gifts. Help our hearts and minds to be ready to receive the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, and to readily follow his way of justice, peace, and love. We pray in the name of Jesus, the Light of 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.