Advent 2020 Devotional: First Sunday of Advent – November 29

LIGHTING THE CANDLE

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth; now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
Genesis 1:1-4

Thanksgiving Day is past, the pumpkin pie gone, the turkey all eaten, and the world has survived another Black Friday. I’m excited about putting up Christmas lights. Each year I am a lot more excited about putting up the lights than taking them down. I am like a little kid about the lights of Christmas! Give me any kind of Christmas light and I am thrilled: lights on the trees, lights on the houses, lights on the shops, lights on the cars, but especially the lights of a Christmas Eve service.

The importance of light for the world is dramatically set forth on the first page of the Bible. In the beginning of the creation story darkness covers the earth. But then, God sovereignly commands: “‘Let there be light’, and there was light.” At these powerful words the cosmic battle of light against darkness is under way.

Darkness is opposed to God’s purpose of goodness, beauty, and truth so much so that God’s first creative act is to speak forth light. What is the first thing we do when the lights go out, but to search for a candle or flashlight to put out the darkness? On this first Sunday of Advent we reflect on the story of God’s triumph of light.

Darkness is a fitting metaphor for many of life’s bitter experiences. Darkness is a spiritual reality in our world, a powerful spiritual force working evil. Scripture speaks of “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). Although darkness covers the earth on the first page of the Bible, by the time we reach the Bible’s last page, God’s defeat of darkness is final. “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). There is promise here in today’s Genesis text as the Spirit of God begins to pierce the darkness. As we begin this Advent season it is a great time to put up lights and ready our Advent candles. We do this confident that darkness shall not prevail! With each light we joyfully proclaim Jesus as God’s true Light who “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP

PRAYER

Loving Father, as we begin Advent, we light a candle in the midst of darkness. This candle represents our faith that one day all darkness, pain, and sorrow will be overcome by the light of Jesus. We look forward to God’s new day when death will be no more, neither sorrow, nor pain. Let this candle be our reminder and our hope for your promised coming, your final triumph over darkness.

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