It was my week to write the cover of the All Saints Church "Saints Alive" Newsletter.
Here's what I ended up with for Advent III:
Advent is arguably my favorite season of the church year. What’s not to like about a season that is only four weeks long, has blue as the liturgical color and Christmas at the end of it! And as we enter the third week of Advent -- the season of preparation for the coming of the Prince of Peace – I find myself returning again and again to these words from the prayer we prayed on the FIRST Sunday of Advent: “Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness.”
I think I keep going back to it because I find it is SO much easier said than done – the casting away part. Or at least it seems so when darkness and division dominate the church news and violence and oppression dominate the world news. Iraq. Iran. Global Warming. The Anglican Communion. The Health Care Crisis. Hunger & Homelessness. The list goes on and on – and the peace on earth, goodwill to all incarnate in the One whose birth we prepare to celebrate in just about a week seems very far away, indeed. Just how DO we “cast away” those works of darkness, I wondered!
And then I remembered this story::
A Native American elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me ... it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too," he added.
The grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child asked earnestly, "But Grandfather, which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied: "The one you feed."
The one you feed. As we light the candles of Advent this year – on our tables at dinner, in our sanctuary at worship, in our hearts at prayer – and as we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace born, once again, into the war torn world -- let us also prepare to feed within us the wolf of love, hope, joy and peace.
For when we feed that wolf, we fuel the Light of Christ we are called to bear into the world. It is that great hope we claim – the hope that empowers us to work for peace and inclusion, to transform unjust systems, to care for those in need. The love that casts out fear IS the light that casts away the works of darkness. And for that may we be given the grace to give thank – this Advent season and always.