This Advent, we’re excited to share excerpts from the new book The Light of the World: Daily Meditations for Advent and Christmas, by Phyllis Zagano. This week, we have the reflection for the First Sunday of Advent.
First Sunday of Advent
Where Do We Go from Here?
Year A: Isaiah 2:1–5; Romans 13:11–14; Matthew 24:37–44
Year B: Isaiah 63:16b–17, 19b; 64:2–7;
1 Corinthians 1:3–9; Mark 13:33–37
Year C: Jeremiah 33:14–16; 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2;
Luke 21:25–28, 34–36
The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise… Jeremiah 33:14
Promises are delicate things. We have all made promises and kept them. We have made promises we have broken. So too we have had promises made to us that others did not keep. Sometimes we can make excuses, for ourselves or for others. We (or they) forgot. We (or they) just could not do it.
Sometimes we know the awful truth. We (or they) lied.
When people grow up in situations where promises are never kept, it is difficult for them to learn to trust; it is hard for them to hear a promise and expect it to be kept.
But Advent is the time for hope in promises, for hope and trust in the promise that Christ is coming, to our homes and lives, to our hearts and minds. Of course, he is already here. But there is the special sense of waiting, quietly, in the dark, for Christ in Christmas to enlighten us.
We quiet ourselves and wait.
But even now, the first day of Advent, the outside world is in a pre-Christmas frenzy. At every turn someone or something is urging us to get out there and shop, shop, shop. The little trap that advertising sets is real. Remember, we are all in the dark in one way or another. We are all wanderers. We all look for something to brighten the way, to bring us joy.
We long for something real, something to hold on to, but the externals of power and possessions do not satisfy the longing. No matter how much we accumulate, there is something else we need. The car must be bigger, the clothing must be newer, the television, the iPad, the cruise—whatever bauble or trinket catches our eye—all these beckon as answers to the longing.
It’s not going to work. As God’s creations, we can only find security in God’s care. As Christians, we must constantly look for the Christ—the Christ who comes to us every single day in new and sometimes startling ways. We can see, if we look gently enough, Christ in all things. Yet even when we see Christ all around us it is too easy to withdraw into our own ways of being dark, of being empty in the wrong ways, of being alone in narcissistic solitude. From these, from emptiness without hope, from solitude that engages us alone, the coming light calls us to escape.
There are two parts to the exercise. First, we must believe that there will be light. Next, we must open our eyes to see it.
Too many times we waste time wandering around in the dark. Too many times we close our eyes to what is coming. We need to believe God’s promise that the light will come.
A Grace for Today
Lord, give me the grace to open my eyes to belief.
Journey through Advent with internationally acclaimed author Phyllis Zagano as she explores the rich themes of this holy season. As explored by Zagano, Advent is a time of darkness and light, increase and decrease. The Light of the World gently unfolds the rhythms of these sacred weeks, inviting readers into a deep and prayerful journey to Christmas.