“Oh, it’s hard to get up in the morning at this time of year.”

One of my colleagues with whom I served Fond du Lac, was not a big fan of these darkening days of fall.  She never used an alarm clock, preferring to rise with the sun.  That method of getting out of bed had many pluses and a few minuses—which I discovered when she breathlessly ran into the sacristy about five minutes before worship was to start on a late November morning.

“I almost didn’t make it this time,” she hastily observed as she robed.  “I usually wake up on time on Sundays, but today, the darkness overcame my internal Sunday morning alarm.”

The longer nights and shorter days can be tough to handle.  We yearn for the light, don’t we?  But I do think there’s an upside to this. . . .  I think that the darkness that rules an increasing number of hours in our days in this part of the world, at this time of the year, might just make us appreciate the light all the more—both when these fall and winter days finally yield some sun, and when the days start lengthening and we begin the annual trek toward summer.  We just know how to patiently live in the darkness while waiting for the longer days, filled with light, to be re-established.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the church chose to celebrate Christ’s birth, and establish the season of Advent at this time of year when darkness is so prevalent, and the light is all so precious.  They knew that prior to Jesus’ birth, the world had been awash in darkness, the people were yearning for hope and light and life.  In those days, there seemed to be little to hope for.  There were few reasons to celebrate God’s presence, because they couldn’t see him while living in such dark days.

They also knew, that when God’s glimmer of light shone in the darkness, things changed.  There was hope.  There was joy.  There was a Savior to conquer that darkness, once and for all.

As we look to the beginning of Advent, it is my prayer that we, too, can see God’s light shining, and consider anew what Christ’s darkness-conquering arrival accomplished for us all.  Might we again consider what it means for Jesus to bring light and life into our midst?  Might we mull over the scriptures that tell us that Christ’s birth brings mercy and grace to a world that still sits in a whole lot of darkness, contemplating what that means to us for the living of our days?

An ancient Advent prayer gives us additional food for thought as it offers this petition,  “Give us grace that we may cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  What might Christ be calling us to do—how shall we share his light with the world–when he fits us with this suit of his gleaming armor?  How can we let Christ’s light shine through us and bring renewal, mercy, hope, joy to brothers and sisters who are having a difficult time seeing him in the darkness of this world?