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“The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)
Over the past year, I have had the privilege of serving with an ecumenical prison ministry team. Spending time in a maximum-security prison is not something I ever thought I would experience, but it’s been lifechanging. Witnessing the Holy Spirit at work in a dark, dark place has been nothing short of miraculous. Through the spreading of God’s light and love, I’ve seen Hope replace despair.
And I believe this is a wonderful message as we begin the Advent Season with our own thoughts and prayers of Hope. The Hope that comes when God’s light shines in the darkest of places. As many of the residents have told me (paraphrase): “I deserve to be here. I did some awful things. I understand why my family has abandoned me. And I thought God was done with me. But now I know that God has never let me go. Even though I may never leave this place, I have Hope for my future.”
If you pare them back, these thoughts of despair are not just those of a prisoner. We all experience grief and longing. I sometimes hear myself expressing similar laments when I worry about the challenges in my life. Owning a business, caring for family, and even projects at church can bring about feelings of stress and overwhelm. And I blame myself for not handling things better. Wondering where God was when I created my messes.
But then, like my brothers inside the prison walls, I can call on God’s Hope. He has given us all an “armor of light.” A gift without limits that will carry us through the darkest of times. A promise for this Advent season as well the many seasons of life we all will face until we see Christ again.
Gracious God, Thank you for your constant presence in my life. I know you will never abandon me. Your light is my Hope, my protection in times of despair. Help me share your gift of eternal Hope both this Advent season and as I await your return. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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