Lighting the Candle
And do this, understanding the present time:
The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
During the darkest days of the Second World War, the English poet, W. H. Auden, wrote a poem reflecting on the distress of waiting for Christ’s Second Advent. He titled the poem, “For the Time Being” and suggested that living in the “time being” was “the most trying time of all”. He thought that coming to know the Christ and then waiting for Him in “the time being” is difficult for even the sturdiest of souls.
Methodist Bishop William Willimon agrees, noting that “It’s hard to stand on tiptoe for two thousand years”. Willimon says that Christians settle into the “everydayness of their faith”, and stop scanning the horizon waiting for Christ’s promised return.
Maybe this is why for early Christians Advent was a special time to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming, rather than to celebrate His First. It was a holy time to ready themselves for when there will be no time, and they would see their Savior face to face.
But it is the challenge of living in the “time being” that the Apostle Paul takes on in today’s text, and calls for “understanding the present time”. And understanding the present time means that we start living as “morning persons”. The night is almost over, the sky is brightening , and the dawn is overtaking the darkness. We are on the cusp of God’s new day. As Christ has rescued us from the dominion of darkness, so we must “lay aside the deeds of darkness”.
I am struck by the fact that the Apostle does not use guilt or fear to motivate us to get ready, but rather joy that we are going to see Christ! Paul says that it is our “salvation”, and not our condemnation, that is nearer to us than when we first believed. He reminds us of the Second Advent not as a threat, but a wondrous gift. That is why the last line of the Bible includes the prayer for Jesus to come for us: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
The best of what we will ever experience in this life is but a taste of the joy when we see Christ. In the “time being”, we will watch and work and wonder as we pray.
MOMENT OF SILENCE AND REFLECTION
Lord Jesus, as we wait for your Coming, help us to live as people of the light. Into the dark corners of our world help us to shine the light of your love. Show us today someone who needs a helping hand, a phone call, an unexpected visit, a word of forgiveness. Help us live as “morning persons,” who every day look for your return. Amen.