Saturday, December 17, 2005

Advent *

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

-Isaiah 9:2

When I was a youngster and found myself in the midst of one of those days when friends weren’t around I would play a game of football with myself. It was a pretty simple game. I would stand in my driveway and throw a Nerf football onto the roof at the far end of the house. I would then run towards that end of the house as the ball rolled down the roof. To make things a little more difficult, I would dive over a bush near the end of the house as I attempted to catch the ball before it hit the ground. I loved this game and could play it for a long time unless, of course, it was too dark.

As a boy I liked the Winter. There was hockey, snow to play in and maybe a school cancellation. The thing I didn’t like about Winter was the shortened daylight. It got dark way too early. These days I’ve grown less fond of the snow but my displeasure with the shortened daylight has remained constant. Yet, I think the early darkness and the Advent seasons invites us to ask some good questions. And one question can be gleaned from the verse from Isaiah quoted above.

This verse from Isaiah is one that I think about this time of year. As I prepare for the birth of my Savior I am thankful for the light that has and will dawn. The event of Jesus’ birth has happened; the light has dawned. The birth of Christ also happens, the light dawns over and over.

The light that dispels darkness and brings hope and peace has come and it will come.
Advent is a time for me to ask, “How have I been walking in darkness?” The answer is often too long and somewhat depressing, but I know that a light has and will dawn. “For to us a child is born and to us a child is given.”

Later in Isaiah we read,

For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
"I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

I will not accuse forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me— the breath of man that I have created.

I was enraged by his sinful greed;

I punished him, and hid my face in anger, yet he kept on in his willful ways.

I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the LORD. "And I will heal them.”

-Isaiah 57:15-19

There may be darkness all around, but we believe the light has and will dawn. We believe that the LORD will bring healing. For all of us, and especially our youth who face many temptations and opportunities for darkness, darkness is a real and powerful thing, but the light of Christ is more real and more powerful.

Sometimes our eyes play tricks on us in the dark and things appear to be there that aren’t really there. Sometimes the darkness seems like a good and fun place to be. It is my hope that we all will experience reality as it really is and leave the illusory and transitory pleasures of darkness.

This Advent season when you think of Mary and Joseph journeying to Bethlehem, will you pray for our parents who are trying to help their teens navigate the often difficult journey of these teen years? Would you ask the Lord to bless them with an abundance of patience, wisdom and love?

When you think of the inn-keeper who gave the little he had to help these parents, would you pray for me and my fellow youth workers? Would you ask the Lord to bless us, to help us be all that we’ve been created to be, and faithful servants of our teens and their parents?

When you think of the baby Jesus, who entered the world a vulnerable babe dependent on Mary and Joseph, would you pray for our youth that this light would dawn in their lives? Would you pray that the light of Christ would penetrate any darkness in the lives of our youth and will lead to real change- the kind of change that helps them be more of who God created them to be?

*Originally published in my church's newsletter.


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