*Advent is a wonderful time for new readers to join us. At this time of year, we are covering familiar biblical content and people are open to spiritual pursuits. Also at this time, people desperately need the balance of spiritual practice that The Park Forum provides. In this season, consider sharing our devotionals with others and inviting them to join our community. Share this post with others to help them subscribe.

Scripture Focus: Revelation 9.20
The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 

Isaiah 9.2-3
The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.

Reflection: Joyful Light of Repentance :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

Advent celebrates and anticipates Christ, the morning star, who dawns in our hearts. When we have become accustomed to the dark, his light can be shocking. Exposure of our shortcomings can bring shame but joy comes in repentance. The longer we delay letting go of our sinful idols and practices, the deeper we flee from the light into the darkness of our sins, the greater the suffering they will cause to us—and to others. 

Living in darkness has strange effects on humans. Those living at far Northern or Southern latitudes experience a small slice of this when daytime hours dwindle to only the barest hint of twilight and the night lasts for weeks and weeks. Instances of depression and mental illness are common during these times and people living in these places must find ways to adapt.

From many different experiments, we have also learned that living in complete darkness for even short stretches of time causes the human brain a great many problems. We lose all track of time. Our sleep cycles go awry. We may sleep for more than a day, thinking it was only a quick nap. Eventually reality begins to disintegrate as hallucinations both visual, auditory, and physical begin to take over.

The spiritual darkness we live in can have a similar effect on our souls. Repentance means turning toward the light and turning our backs on the hallucinations caused in our darkened minds by our darkened world.

Repentance can be controversial. Many feel that a loving God would not require us to change, but leave us as we are. After all, are we not made in his image? Can the potter blame the pot for the way he formed it? However, the image of the potter in scripture is of one who repairs and reshapes a marred pot, not one who makes a marred pot and then leaves it that way. A loving God is not a “leaving” God. He is a “leading” God, working to reshape and repair those marred and twisted by time spent in darkness. 

When Christ’s light dawns on us as we dwell in darkness, we have a choice. We can scuttle toward the dark, treasuring our sin. Or we can stand, letting the light heal our minds and strengthen our sight so that we can walk out of the darkness we once called home, into the joyful light of repentance.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. — Psalm 145.22

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 21 (Listen -3:25)
Revelation 9 (Listen -3:30)

Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we will publish approximately 100,000 words of free, and ad-free, devotional content. Without donor support, continuing this ministry would be impossible. As the end of the year approaches, consider whether the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to help support our 2020 content with an end-of-year gift or by becoming a monthly donor. Follow this link to our giving page.

Read more about Light and Dark and Joy :: Joy of Advent
We come out of the darkness, by God’s grace, as children of the light.

Read more about supporting our work
Your gifts to support our ministry are really to support the spiritual growth and development of thousands of daily readers across the world.