Keeping Vigil For The Light Of The World: A Reflection On Winter And Advent
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. Traditionally, this is seen as the beginning of the new year in the Church Calendar. It is fitting that the year is birthed in waiting for the birth of our Messiah to come and bring light into the darkness of our world.
Across the world, many churches lit the first candle in their advent wreath. I lit one on my table last night. Each week the light will grow and consume more of the darkness around it until finally, we lit the center candle and proclaim Christ’s birth.
Today, my heart is called back to Genesis, to the beginning of time. I am remembering the beginning, the void, and the all-consuming darkness over it all. That is, until God spoke those simple words we learned in Sunday School, “Let there be light.”
He spoke and the darkness ran. Out of nothing, came the light. Before the sun shone in the sky, the Son was already bringing light into the world.
It seems very fitting to me that in the Northern Hemisphere, the place I grew up and call home, Advent comes in the darkest time of the year. Each day leading up to Christmas grows shorter and shorter and the darkness of the night consumes more and more of our life. As I sit and look out my window at the peaceful stillness of the night, I am reminded of the darkness of the beginning of the world.
My new liturgical year begins in this darkness. It begins with remembering a time of bondage, of slavery. My days are filled with a longing that cries out for the deliverance of God. And some days, it is easy to wonder as the Israelites in Egypt did if God has forgotten me or is struggling to see where I am in all of this darkness.
But as I light my first Advent candle, I remember that the Light is coming. The same Light that was present at the beginning of the world, the Light that preceded the sun, is illuminating my heart and chasing away the darkness.
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” -John 1:9-10
He is coming. He is here already but my friend, He is coming.
May we keep vigil. Like the five women in Matthew 25, may we prepare and fuel our lamps as we watch for the arrival of the King.
This beginning of the year is a time for preparation. It is a time to take stock of our lives and order them for the first arrival of King Jesus even as we anticipate His second coming. As we look to the manger and begin this season, may we earnestly seek the ways the Lord has called us to keep watch.
Let us dedicate ourselves to prayer, to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and to the fellowship of the saints. May we look at this season, a season of service and of giving, and dedicate ourselves to living a life poured out for others as the hands and feet of Jesus the rest of the year.
This dark world is being illuminated by the vigil lights we are holding in anticipation of the return of the true Light. The paradox is that we are waiting for His light, it is sustained by Him. He has not abandoned us but will sustain us with His very Body and Blood as we await the blessed day when we shall see our Jesus face to face.
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