Monday, December 3, 2012

Expectant in Bethlehem: Monday of the First Week of Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.     The Book of Common Prayer, p. 211

The boy practically prances down the aisle, his toddler tennis shoes lighting up as he goes. I remember when my children were young enough to wear "light-up" shoes. It is the First Sunday of Advent and the boy is in procession, following the cross on his way to Children's Chapel. He grins at me as he passes, and my attention is caught by those shoes. I am reminded of the psalm, Your word is a lantern to my feet, and a light upon my path (Psalm 119:105). He literally has lanterns on his feet and is shedding light on the path as he goes.

During Advent we intentionally arm ourselves with light. In my town many follow a cultural tradition of putting one lighted candle in each window. As I drive home from work on these early winter evenings, I pass through streets where the windows of every business and house boast this one light. It has become part of my Advent discipline to enjoy this path home. These are not the riotous Christmas lights that cover houses and lawns on other streets offering a different kind of cheer. Rather these simple candles hearken back to another time, when a single flame in the window would combat the darkness of long winter nights and offer beacons to lead the traveler safely home.

"Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness," we pray during this first week of Advent. It dawns on me that casting away the works of darkness is not always a herculean task; even one small flame or one pair of light-up shoes has the power to dispel the darkness. I would like to follow this boy and his light-up shoes. I am sure he could lead me safely home.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012