Full of Hope, Joy, and Light

Full of Hope, Joy, and Light: Week Two of Advent [14DEC2013]

Readings: Psalm 30, 32 ◊ Haggai 2:1-9  Rev. 3:1-6  Matt. 24:1-14

Reading: The Philokalia—Vol.3: A Gnomic Anthology by Ilias the Presbyter

Tonight I attended the Christmas concert at our church. It was wonderful… our choir, our director, the orchestra, and all the supporting volunteers are fantastic and they make this annual event something to remember. The Christmas Story is told and retold over and over again through each song—rephrasing and restating the message that God has come—Emmanuel, God With Us. We hear and hear again, “The Light has come” and chased away the darkness. O unspeakable, overflowing JOY, God has come! We clap and shout Alleluia! We affirm the beauty of the Christmas Herald, praising God for fulfilling his promise.

Do we mean it? Do we even believe our own words?

My heart breaks as I consider so many of my Christian brothers and sisters who struggle with the words we sing and affirm and the reality of appropriating them fully in their own hearts. I witness far too many of my Christian family who lack deep, Christ-filled, joy in their lives and live under a continuous specter of darkness… Light has not chased away the darkness that clouds their dailyness.

“From the outside a soul may appear to be healthy, while within, in the depths of consciousness, it may suffer from some hidden sickness. It can be healed from the outside through being pierced by reproof, and from within through the renewal of the intellect. Whoever, then, rejects such reproof, and shamelessly continues to lie on his bed in the sickroom of lethargy, is a fool.” -Ilias the Presbyter

I think many lack one of the comings of Christ that we look forward to during the Advent Season. One Advent of Christ we celebrate and look forward to is the arrival of Jesus in our own hearts. This arrival is no different than the heralded event in Jerusalem two-thousand years ago. He brought good tidings and great joy then and he does when he crashes into our hearts as well. Jesus displaced the darkness then and he turns the black, hopeless hearts into glorious, hope-filled, Holy Spirit sanctuaries today. We need to remember this and embrace it fully.  Hear this hope-filled prayer from the Apostle Paul:

18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. -Ephesians 1:18-20 NLT

Prayer of Psalms:

I will exalt you, LORD, for you rescued me. O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O LORD. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever (Psalm 30).

O Lord God, whose chosen dwelling is the heart of the lowly: We give thee thanks that thou didst reveal thyself in the holy child Jesus, thereby sanctifying all childhood in him. We beseech thee to make us humble in faith and love, that we may know the joy of the Gospel that is hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes. Amen.

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