“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” John 12:36
Light is a cardinal theme in the Gospel of John. He introduces the word early and returns to it often. The Light is Jesus Himself, who was with God and was God from the very beginning, created the world, and then came into it (1:5). The words of Jesus, “I am the Light of the world” (9:5) are found only in John. We find more “light” in John’s gospel than any other.
Advent is a time to celebrate The Light. We remember and joyously welcome again the good news of Jesus’ birth. We sing of it, decorate our homes and sanctuaries in honor of it. Christmas surrounds us! The Light has come.
Yet we also sense the shadows. They are around us and often in us. Any proper spiritual exercise during Advent requires both embracing what is good and letting go of what is bad. We cannot celebrate The Light fully unless we become aware of, and turn away from, the darkness and night that are a part of every one of us.
That is where Henri Nouwen’s prayer comes in. Nouwen was one of my favorite authors. He died in 1996, but his influence continues strongly through works like The Return of the Prodigal. He also battled depression and became through it A Wounded Healer.
He penned the following prayer, and I wanted you to have it to use during Advent. It is a prayer that invites you to discern all forms of the shadows with you, and turn clearly and more completely to The Light of Christ.
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do, seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things, look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways, long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy, seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"
Dr. Terry Ellis
December 13, 2014