Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On the first Sunday of Advent each year we pray that God will “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light.” (Collect for Advent 1, BCP, p. 211)
What are we praying for when we ask for God’s grace that we might cast away darkness and put on the armor of light? Are we asking for God to somehow acknowledge our goodness, our strength and our virtue? Are we asking for His grace to turn us into supermen and superwomen who are enabled to leap tall temptations with a single bound?
We might at first think that giving up darkness and taking on light means that we have to be better, stronger and abler men and women in the world. In reality, though, casting away darkness and putting on light really means quite the opposite.
To cast away darkness and to put on light is to lift our brokenness, our need, and – yes – our sinfulness to God. It is to come before God as the tax collector came before Him in the temple, admitting our deepest needs, our weaknesses and all of the shortcomings of our life. It was, after all, the sinful but penitent tax collector, and not the self-righteous Pharisee, who left the temple justified and right with God.
To put away darkness and be clothed in light is to grasp the amazing grace of Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us. Our prayer is that we may come to see ourselves as we truly are and to recognize the transformational grace of Jesus Christ. When this prayer is answered, we truly will have cast away darkness and put on the armor of light.
May our Advent journey this year be a time of prayer and of new beginnings, and may we all—by the grace of God—cast away darkness and put on light!