Cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.
there are times when decisions have to be made. Perhaps its the pressing of the final button on your computer when making a purchase or booking a holiday. The finger hovers and you think, maybe there's still a better deal, have I accidentally bought 10 of these, is it the right date?
Or which way will I drive into town today – Mahon Road or Tandragee Road – and you need to decide before you get to the junction.
Life needs decisions and commitments. We can't always get through by hedging our bets, maybe, what if, lets wait and see, it can wait. We must have the courage to push the button.
Today's collect – a summary or collecting up of our prayers – for Advent is a prayer of decision on our part. It is a prayer asking for change but that, of course, implies a willingness, a desire to change:
Almighty God, Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility; that on the last day when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
This is a prayer for the present – the clue lies in one little word – NOW!
This is a prayer about what has already happened. Note the Old Testament reading – “O that you would rend the heavens and come down!” Sadly,I think many people are still praying that prayer – not just the Jewish people who have decided theologically that the Messiah has not yet arrived, but Christian people and agnostics who behave and pray as if the Messiah had never arrived.
We hear the pleas – if only God would intervene, if only God would do something, if only God would show himself, if only God were one of us, he might understand better. Of course, you've guessed what I'm about to say! He has done all these things – your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility.
This means we are no longer waiting for this to happen, no longer waiting to hear the starting pistol. We are not sitting in the darkness waiting for the light to come – the light has come into the world and we must put on the armour of light and cast away the darkness. Its a powerful picture and a life-changing decisive prayer! The works of darkness are all those things you might associate with godlessness – too numerous to mention but the obvious ones are hatred, malice, pride, deceit, envy, selfishness, unholiness, all of which work out their own symptoms in each of us personally. The armour of light, on the other hand, shines brightly. We choose to become knights in shining armour! It is holiness and love; it is faith and commitment. Its not a weak crutch – it denotes strength and courage. And its NOW. It has an impact NOW in this life.
Its a decision to be taken NOW so that we are not taken unawares later. This is the teaching in Mark, that we be always alert and awake to welcome the King in his glorious majesty and rise with him in glory. This future event impacts on our lives now. We are not a product of our past – that is fatalistic negative psychology. We are the product of what we shall become. That realisation is perhaps part of the grace given to us – it the hope, the purpose – which enables us to cast away the works of darkness NOW in the time of this mortal life.