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God's Word on Sunday: Jesus’ ‘armour of light’ will slay the darkness

  • November 27, 2022

First Sunday of Advent (Year A) Nov. 27 (Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44)

Some visions are glimpses into the future, while others reflect deep longing and hope. We begin our journey through Advent with both a sense of hope and a bit of anxiety about our world. 

Isaiah’s vision has tugged at the human heart and soul for centuries, but tragically, it has remained a hope and dream rather than a reality. Beating swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks has been the language of peace advocates ever since. But the splendour of the vision fades a bit when we confront the countless wars that have been waged, with their incalculable destruction and slaughter. 

Nationalism, ideologies and religion itself have all been used as inspirations and justifications for these wars. Nations still teach and learn the practice of organized violence and to make matters worse, they often glorify and “sanctify” it. Many are exhausted and disheartened by the daily spectacle of violence that confronts us through the media. Some unfortunate souls experience the violence personally. 

The prophecy offers the solution to this human tragedy: unlearning the ways of the world and being reeducated in the way of God that has indeed gone forth from Zion. God has revealed the way through the prophets, sacred writings and for Christians, Jesus Christ. Nothing is hidden; all has been revealed. No one can plead ignorance. This vision originally concerned Judah and Jerusalem, but today it is applicable to the world and to humanity. The prophecy foretells the time when all will stream towards God’s holy mountain — Zion — where they will be taught by God. 

We need not go anywhere physically for Zion is a powerful symbol. It is sufficient to travel to the holy mountain in heart and consciousness. We will be taught by God when we drop all of our illusions of knowing or controlling God and approach with humility and openness of mind and heart. The ways of God are expressions of compassion, justice, forgiveness, humility, non-violence and the awareness that we are all one. Growing into this divine pattern will result in the blessed state expressed in Isaiah’s prophecy. But it will not happen on its own — we need to create the conditions for it to occur.

Paul reminds us of this when he points out the urgency of the time in which he lived. It was time for humanity to wake from its sleep and to put aside the deeds of darkness. Putting on the armour of light and living honourably is probably one of the most effective responses we can have to the darkness of our own age. And for those who profess faith in Christ, putting on Jesus Christ is the best armour of light possible. We need nothing else.

In the story of the great flood, business went on as usual for people until the very moment that the waters began to rise. Weddings were planned; business was conducted; and the parties — eating and drinking — continued unchecked. This was despite general warnings that had been issued by Noah. As with most warnings, they were laughed at or ignored. The day was long in the making, but when it came, it was swift and merciless. Jesus then likened that experience to the day of the coming of the Son of Man. Some will vanish, while others will remain for the grim show. Jesus ended with a warning: you know not the day nor the hour — so be prepared always. 

There have been many disasters in our own time that have caught people unaware — wars, terrorist attacks, plane crashes, earthquakes and tsunamis. All of the unfilled appointments, plans, dinners, recreation, family time and personal encounters mattered not at all among the shattered ruins and wreckage of so many lives. Today we face many grave challenges: we are closer to nuclear war than ever; our political structures are being torn to pieces by polarization and strife and an environmental apocalypse is a distinct possibility. The words of Paul call out to us — it is time to wake from our sleep; the night is far gone. And many have heeded the call — but not nearly enough. 

People must demand conversion of hearts and minds and not take no for an answer. Much depends on it — let us not be numbered with the people in the days of Noah.