John 9.4-5
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Reflection: Light and Dark and Joy :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

Like Advent’s candles, Advent’s joy shines most beautifully in the dark.

At times we over-spiritualize darkness, dressing it in a black hat as a mustache-twisting villain. There are some good reasons for confusion. The Bible often analogizes darkness as evil, even though darkness itself is not evil. Darkness is not sin, although the Bible speaks of us using darkness to hide our sin, and that we stumble in sin because of spiritual darkness or blindness.

When the disciples and religious leaders saw the man born blind, they saw only sin. Jesus saw God’s glory.

Darkness is not dark to our God. That means that God is not blind to our sins, but it also means that we do not walk in darkness alone. We walk with the God who knows the darkness as well as he knows the light.

Darkness is part of the cosmos that God created and called “good.” At creation, God created sources of light and set boundaries for shadows. He set the orbits of intersecting heavenly bodies, the timing of eclipses, of comets, and supernovas, giving us tools of light and darkness to help us mark the seasons and times of life. The celestial event that guided the Magi was set in motion eons ago by the very one whose birth it proclaimed.

We, like our universe and our Savior, were conceived and grew in darkness. Our first heartbeat and our first thoughts are in darkness. Our first movements are in darkness. Our first relationship begins in darkness. We come out of the darkness, by God’s grace, as children of the light. Our first glimpse of light is after our birth and before our first breath of air.

Before healing the man born blind, Christ proclaimed that he was the light of the world. Like the blind man, we wait in darkness in order that we may see the light and show it to others. In our hearts, the light is present always. It is our task to birth that light into the world.

We speak often of Advent as a time of darkness, and it is. But it is only dark because we are waiting for a light which we are sure will come. The Advent darkness we wait in is working with the light, helping us to have joy in anticipation and faith in what we cannot yet see.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe; you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me. The Lord will make good his purpose for me; O Lord, your love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands.  — Psalm 138:7-8

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

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Zechariah 6 (Listen – 2:08)
John 9 (Listen – 4:56)

Additional Reading
Read More Blossoming of Joy in Adversity :: Joy of Advent
What are we waiting for?
Advent’s path to joy passes through trials, arrests, suffering, and the cross. Let us follow Christ.

Read More A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent
During Advent we trim our lamps and supply ourselves with oil that we may be ready when Christ comes. Lord, as the world grows darker, the hope we have in Christ, burns brighter.

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