Sunday, December 03, 2006,3:58 PM
Reflections - First Sunday of Advent
"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stay with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."

"...What are we holding onto, Sam?" said Frodo

"...That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo...and it's worth fighting for."

- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The world is full of darkness. We see the hate, the fear, and the violence all around us. Just this past week we saw the setting aside of two days to acknowledge – and therefore help fight – violence against women and the AIDS pandemic. In light of such evil, pain, and suffering it often seems like the dark is winning. The problems are getting worse and that there is nothing we can do to make a difference.

But even at this time of year as the days get shorter and it seems like darkness is taking over, we are called to remember the light. To set aside a season and through the physical action of lighting candles remember that there is hope. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven and during this season of advent we remember to live in that kingdom. To live in the light – to be the glimpses of hope shining in the darkness.

For the incarnation was the advent of a new kingdom – an upside-down kingdom that shatters the darkness and proclaims good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and help for the oppressed. A kingdom of hope, of peace, of justice. A kingdom where the hungry are fed, the sick are healed, and the abused comforted. Where children aren’t sold as sex slaves, where women don’t fear their husbands, where medicines are available to all, where children don’t starve to death every day. A kingdom where darkness is overcome by light.

This advent let us remember that hope, let us live in that hope, let us be that hope. We are the ones who choose to follow the way of Christ and bring about his kingdom. Let us remember and let us proclaim that there is hope. The world isn’t all bad, the light of the kingdom is breaking through, Aslan is on the move, there is good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.

Prayer for Advent: Hope in a Dark Time

In this time of darkness,
We choose to look toward the Light.
In this time when so many are suffering,
We choose faith, not despair,
We choose the work of compassionate justice.

As we move together,
Hungry for transformation, for hope,
Our steps themselves
Transform us, nourish us.
We are on constant pilgrimage,
Moving to the heart of things,
Reaching beyond what any one of us
Can accomplish ourselves.

The brightness of the Incarnation
Guides us as we continue,
With the promise of the Prince of Peace
As the bright star in these dark nights.

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