Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent 1 Sermon - Light & Dark

During Advent this year at St. George's I am doing a sermon series on the doctrine and ideas which undergird our Episcopal worship and liturgy. Many are drawn to the beauty of liturgical worship in our church, and we certainly have a remarkable heritage in the Prayer Book. However, being drawn to the beauty of liturgy is one thing, but not knowing what your are saying/praying and why is another. I grew up in the Episcopal Church, but it wasn't until my late twenties that I began to learn about the theology, the doctrines underneath the liturgy.

I will be posting very brief recaps of my sermons here over the next few days, as well as including links to the online audio for them. So here's the gist of the First Sunday of Advent:

Advent is a season where images and language of light and dark become more prevalent. This fits the actual changing of seasons, the days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and the world is getting colder.

Our prayer, our first Collect for Advent asks that we might 'cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.' This is a direct quote from Romans 13:12-14, the passage that had a profound impact on St. Augustine some 1600 years ago. Part of this Bible verse indicates that although the night is far gone, the day is at hand. As Christians we know that true light has come into the world as the Lord Jesus Christ, thus it is no longer night, or at least midnight. But we also know that we don't live in full sunshine, that is, we await the return of Jeus Christ when the world will be made new and perfect. He will be like the sun shining on us, warm and pure. that is our hope. But he is not yet here, and so we live as if in the predawn hours. The night indeed is far gone, we eagerly await the Sunrise.

This is the life of the Christian, and this is what characterizes Advent. We await the coming, i.e. the Advent of Christ in glory, primarily by remembering and celebrating his first advent in the flesh as a baby. Thus Advent is the the 'predawn light' season of the church year.

And how do we 'put on Christ' and walk in the light? By trusting in Jesus, having faith in him. As St. Paul wrote, the Gospel is the power of God for all who are saved, because in it the righteousness of God is revealed, from beginning to end by faith."

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