The Armor of Light

Advent Reflection, Sunday, December 1, 2019

By: David May

“Put on the whole armor of light!’

The brand-new Church Year begins today in just about the darkest time of the year. These days, many of us get up in the dark and come home from work or school in the dark. Light seems especially precious this time of the year, and I’ll take whatever I can get – the little light on the coffee-maker in the dark early morning, the warm light coming from a neighbor’s window when I get home, the candle we light to make dinner a little cheerier. When so much of the day is dark, I think of how the very first gift of creation came when God said, ‘let there be light!’ And there was. Thank you, God.

The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent urges God to give us grace to ‘put on the armor of light’. The word ‘armor’ suggests that we will be using light as a kind of protection from the harm that the darkness threatens. I like this image a lot. Light may not be enough to ward off physical threats, but it is sufficient to push back the dark enough to find your way and even be enough to help others find their way too.

This past week I attended a diocesan gathering of clergy new to the diocese and new to their parishes. We spent time talking about Christian Formation and how what that really means is that our churches are places where we hope people can become disciples of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus are people who learn from Jesus to live like him and act like him and sound like him. Which led me to think about people I know (that includes both the living and the dead) in whom I have seen Jesus. They are people whose lives have shown what it looks like to pray like Jesus, how to give like him, how to proclaim Good News like him, how to forgive like him, and how to show compassion like him. And how their lives bring light into the world. God knows how much we need that.

As this new Church Year begins, it might be worth thinking about the people in your life who have shown you something of the light of Jesus in the way they live and act and sound; and how you saw the love and light, the compassion and forgiveness and healing, and the justice and mercy of Jesus. And to give thanks that their light has shown you the way to bring light into the darkness too, like Jesus. Give us grace, O Lord, to put on the armor of light, to be the light of Jesus in this world.

A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent

By: David H. May, Rector

 

In her beautiful sermon last week, Amelia McDaniel reminded us that the time in which we live is sacred; which means that God’s hands are on it and that God’s own Spirit leads the times of our going forth and our coming home again. Now of course, the ticking of a clock leads us forth too and brings us home, because children have to get up and off to school and we have work to go to and meetings to make. But we do live lives upon which God is writing the life of his son, Christ the Lord, through the times of our lives: times of being lost and being found, times of healing and being healed, times of darkness and the light of revelation. God’s redeeming love is woven all through the living of our days as we are given eyes to see and ears to hear.

And today it is the beginning of the season of Advent, the first season of the new Church Year. The word Advent means ‘coming’ which directs us to shake off any sleepy-headedness and look to the future with a holy hope for the Lord’s own coming into our lives. We are people called to be alive and awake with hope in this sacred time, and not fall asleep. The Bible readings for this Sunday couldn’t be clearer. The Apostle Paul writing to the Church in Rome says, ‘you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep’. In the Gospel reading, Jesus’ jarring images: a flood, a kidnapper, a thief sharpen the same point – stay awake; for the Lord is near.

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Patiently Wait for Great Blessings

Weekly Advent Reflection, Sunday, December 23, 2018

By: Caroline Moomaw

I am both a perfectionist and a procrastinator. Christmas has always intimidated me. My perfectionist side wants to find the perfect gift, make the perfect holiday dish, and have the perfect holiday card. My procrastinating side waits until Christmas Eve for the gifts, the day before the holiday party for the delicious and unique holiday dish and paying for express shipping so people get the cards before Christmas is over. I am my own WORST enemy.

Three years ago, I was on the verge of my due date with baby number one. Being pregnant in Advent was a bit of a priority check. It forced me to not procrastinate AND to focus on the real meaning of Christmas. The things previously mentioned are nice, however, they are not what the season is about.

Upon reflection, most of the things I had focused on before seemed so trivial. Looking at it again, I realized that many of the people that I cherish the most are born in and around the season of Advent. I realized that Advent is a quiet time to show the people you love how much they mean to you.

I find myself here again, three years later. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of not one baby, but two. I sympathize with poor Mary. I can’t imagine riding a donkey many miles while being 9 months pregnant. I am thankful that I do not have to, especially with twins.

I think that I was meant to have children around this time. I needed to be forced to slow down, cherish the calm, and focus on the important things. I’m thankful for all the blessings in my life; my amazing husband, my sweet little boy, my loving and supportive family, my warm home, my wonderful job, my church and my faith, just to mention a few.

Advent will forever bring so much warmth to my heart. It is the time that I was forced to patiently wait for the greatest blessings of my life, my children. It is a time for me to reflect on my life, the people in it, and also the changes that are coming. The wonderful, wonderful changes.

A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent

By: Amelia McDaniel, Director of Children’s Ministries

 

I like to go back and read books again.  Books I have loved.  Sometimes the re-reading is nostalgic.  Sometimes I realize that I no longer identify with the characters the way I once did.  And sometimes I am astonished to find that the rereading reveals a whole new story to me.

I make a habit of rereading To Kill a Mockingbird every few years.  Each time I read it again a new facet of the story comes into view for me.  And I fall in love all over again with it.  I’ve loved Scout as someone who identifies with her, as a big sister to her, as someone who wishes she had a momma to love on her.  I’ve loved Jem through the eyes of a sibling, and through the eyes of a mother to a son.  My last reading of the book had me enthralled with Atticus and how he struggled to care for his children alone and explain a world that in so many ways is inexplicable.

So when I was rereading today’s Gospel, with different eyes from the last time this story came up in our lectionary cycle, I was struck by John’s screaming out at the people around him.  John, who from the very beginning was in on what God was doing with Jesus.  John who leapt in his mother’s womb when she was in the presence of Mary, still carrying Jesus in her own womb.  John whose fire and zeal led him to the to tell people to get ready.  That God was going to do something new.

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