First Sunday of Advent 2016 – Light Shines in Darkness

AdventWreath-celtic

In him was life,
and that life was the light of the people.
The light shines in darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:4-5)

Advent is a season of waiting. The anticipation of things to come. The desperate hope that the darkness of the world is not the end of the story; but one day light will prevail.

For those invested and paying attention to the political realities of the Middle East, often darkness seems to rule the day. There is much darkness to lament.

The darkness of the Syrian conflict that has raged for more than half a decade and has

resulted in the displacement and death of millions…

The darkness of the genocide of Christians and minority groups such as the Yazidis in Iraq and surrounding nations at the hands of Islamic extremists and other militant groups …

The darkness of failed intervention of Western powers – and the brutal effects of military

interventionism –  that often increase the suffering and harm the day-to-day realities on the ground for civilians and men, women, and children not directly engaged in conflict.

The darkness of a military occupation imposed upon the Palestinian people for now almost half a century.

The hope of the Advent season is that what seem to be intractable realities today will not be the end of the story. As Christians who believe in the person of Jesus, this season reminds of what it means to wait in anticipation of hope. Hope that transcends understanding. Faith that the pain, suffering, and brokenness in the world is not the end of the story. This week, as the Advent season begins – reflect on these words:

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

May we pray together in the weeks ahead for Christ to come and for light to prevail.

God of the universe, on the first day of the Creation story, you said the words “Let their be light.” This is our prayer – may your light, goodness, mercy, and grace overcome the darkness that seems to be overwhelmingly present in the Middle East today.

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Lord God, may your light shine in darkness upon all of the people of the Middle East, particularly those who are in the path of violence and oppression. In the painful places throughout the Middle East and the  world where violence is so prevalent and power is used as a means to abuse, oppress, and control – let your light overcome.

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

For the millions of refugees who have suffered untold trauma; for all those who have lost loved ones, family members, and friends; in the places where it seems unjust systems will never be overturned; remind us of the truth of this Advent Season. Give us hope.

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
 
Amen.

(Source: Churches for Middle East Peace.)
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a coalition of 22 national church denominations and organizations, including Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant traditions. It works to encourage U.S. government policies that actively promote a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all people of the region. The organization is led presently by my friend Rev. Mae Cannon.

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