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.