Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The First Week of Advent: Wednesday

The images of "darkness" and "light" are integral to Advent. In our hemisphere, the days are growing darker as we move into winter. The Advent Wreath gets brighter each Sunday as we mark the time until Christmas. But darkness and light, of course, are also potent spiritual symbols. In Scripture, darkness represents ignorance, evil, and separation from God. Light, on the other hand, speaks of God's revelation, the purity of virtue and the glorious presence of the Holy One.

Today's Vesper's Psalm, Psalm 12, describes the spiritual darkness in which we find ourselves.
Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, ‘With our tongues we will prevail;
our lips are our own—who is our master?’
‘Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,
I will now rise up,’ says the Lord;
‘I will place them in the safety for which they long.’
The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
You, O Lord, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation for ever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among humankind.
In the midst of the darkness of ungodliness, unfaithfulness, lies, deception, flattering and the proud boasting of those who claim they are in charge of their own lives and destinies, the God of Light rises up and speaks pure words of salvation to those whose hearts shiver in the night.
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

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