The recommended collect from the Book of Common Prayer for Advent, “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, ” may sound like quaint, religious gobbledygook to many that might make us feel good, but lacks any power to change us. However, I believe it describes a reality for those who have never heard that Jesus is the Light of the World.
Recently, I heard the story of an American pastor who had a dream about a bridge. He asked his assistant to find the bridge on the Internet. Amazingly, he found it! The bridge was in SE Asia in the heart of an ethnic community that was utterly unreached. The following year, the pastor took a trip to that very same bridge. He met a farmer from the minority people group and challenged him to take two weeks to study the Bible.
“What a crazy idea! Why in the world would I do that?” was the farmer’s response. The pastor replied, “It may be that you will be the very person who will dispel the darkness of your village. You may be the one who brings the light.” It sounds improbable, but the farmer changed his mind and said, “Well, then, what have I got to lose?” And over the following couple weeks, he took the course, repented of his sins and had faith in Jesus.
Today, that farmer is one of the very few language helpers in a translation of the Bible into that minority language. He is being used by God to bring the light into his unreached community.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it. Perhaps we can pray the Lord will help us shed the works of darkness in our own souls so that we can be instruments of His grace for others. Others may include our neighbors across the street or the unreached around the world. We can’t put the armor on before we’ve cast out the darkness!