Sunday, November 27, 2016

100W Advent

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the First Sunday in Advent 2016

As you flick the switch there is a pop, a brief flash of light, and then darkness. Yes, the bulb has gone. After a few minutes of trying to find the light-switch in the other room, sorting out any trips in the fuse box, and working steadily through that box of bulbs to find one that is a screw-in and not a pin bulb, you finally replace the bulb in the socket. And the light comes on!

Of course, you’ve managed to get the wrong power bulb. It’s a 100W bulb, not the 60W bulb you were expecting. And what happens?



Bright lights do hurt eyes that have got used to the darkness. You also get those annoying after-images which obscure your vision for a little while afterwards. It takes a little while to get used to the bright light, but when you do, in all the brightness, you realise that the room isn’t as clean as you thought, there’s more dust than you thought, and the cat seems to have shed more hair than its body-weight under the front of the sofa.

Bright lights hurt, and then they show things up. Why don’t we stick to the 60W light bulb?


And yet we pray for God to “give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light”. Surely we are aware that God’s light is more powerful, more searching than any 100W light bulb. God says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” This doesn’t sound very comfortable, does it?


The trouble is that we Christians are destined to walk in the light while the world walks in darkness, and yet our eyes all too easily acclimatise to the dark and not the light. When the light comes on, it’s painful and uncomfortable and we see ourselves for what we are. St Paul warns us, ”The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” We need the light to show us where we are living in the darkness, the times when we are walking away from God and not towards Him.

If we love God, then we will allow Him to shine His light on us. It will hurt, but not for long if we allow our eyes through His grace to get used to His light. We will also get after-images, shadows of our past life of sin sent by the Devil to try and tempt us to shut out the light so we can’t see them. We must allow them to pass by confessing our sin and yet turning ever more fully to the light.

This Advent, let us ask God to shed His light on us and help us turn to Him more closely. Let us remember that Advent is as much a time for self-examination as Lent so that we may receive Christ anew into our hearts. That way, the lights of Christmas will shine more brightly for us as we have the Eternal Light blazing away in our lives.

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