It is startling to read the beginning verses in today’s lectionary reading from Amos 5:
Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20, ESV)
For those of us who live in the A.D. world, Advent is about longing for Christ’s coming, eagerness for His appearing, excitement that the people walking in darkness would see a great light, that light was coming into the world and that darkness could not overcome it. So these words in Amos are almost shocking. It is hard to think from a B.C. perspective. But in the days of Amos and the other prophets (see also Joel2 and Zephaniah1), for those trapped in their sins and under judgment, deserving God’s wrath, the Day of the LORD was something to be feared, a day of darkness & suffering, and gloom.
Unless we enter into this understanding of the hopelessness and the doom awaiting, it is hard to fully rejoice in the promise of the Messiah:
Isaiah 9:1-2 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. … The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 29:18-19 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. 19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
Instead of gloom, we who are in Christ can look forward to Christ’s coming with great joy. Jude 24-25 (also in today’s lectionary) is one of my favorite passages of Scripture:
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Great joy! What an amazing promise and hope, that the Lord Jesus Himself will keep us and present us blameless before the Father. Christ came to free us from gloom and terror. He has shined His light in our darkness. I pray each of us will choose to trust in Him by faith and walk in His light so that we may rejoice on That Day.
Incline a merciful ear to our cry,
we pray, O Lord,
and casting light on the darkness of our hearts,
visit us with the grace of your Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Advent Worship: Wells Cathedral Choir “Lead Kindly Light”
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.