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The Darkness Retreats

The new church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. At the same time, something new will begin with this last series of Divine Services for the year 2012. From now on, each month will come with a foreword intended to help create a deeper understanding of the common theme that links the various divine services.

Advent (Latin: “arrival”) serves to prepare and set the mood for the arrival of Jesus Christ. This event, which came to pass two thousand years ago, not only holds significance for the past, but is still of importance for us today. God not only became human for the people who lived two thousand years ago, but also for us! And there is something else: Advent not only helps us commemorate the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, but at the same time points to one of the most important statements of the New Apostolic faith, namely that Jesus Christ will return. In this respect, Advent not only reminds us of the act of salvation that has already occurred for us, but also points to the salvation in which we can expect to partake in the future.

 

The divine services of this year’s Advent season are captioned by the theme: “The darkness retreats”. This points to the fact that mankind dwells in “darkness”, namely in sin and remoteness from God. Concerning the Son of God we read: “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1: 5). The darkness thus retreats with the arrival of Jesus Christ, and with Him a new relationship with God comes into being. The gospel of John indicates that most human beings did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Christ. They had settled comfortably into the darkness and into their remoteness from God. Nothing about this has changed even to this very day. For this reason, the light of Christ is to beam brightly into the divine services of this Advent and Christmas season, so that a bit of this brightness—our nearness to God—may also become evident in each one of us.

 

The divine service on the first Sunday of Advent is to first of all make it clear that God kept His promises and always stood by His people already in the old covenant. The passage from Zechariah, a classic Advent text, is interpreted as the herald of the new covenant. Here too, God will fulfill all promises of salvation and dwell with His people. This is to generate joy and ensure that our striving and expectation are geared toward the return of Christ.

 

The second Sunday of Advent also draws on the image of darkness and light. The emphasis is on the light of Christ and the special power it contains that is to fill us and accompany us upon our path of faith.

 

The third Sunday of Advent is based on a Bible text from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus Christ, the light, calls upon us to likewise be a light, in other words, to profess Him before the world through our good works. In a certain sense, another step is thereby taken, namely from the light of Christ to the light that we, the believers, are to constitute in order to thereby praise God.

 

Finally, the passage from Isaiah that serves as the basis for the service on the fourth Sunday of Advent talks about the future of God’s people. Through the appearing of the Son of God, the darkness loses its power. Jesus Christ brings the bright light of divine order, truth, and redemption. Thereby we are prepared for the upcoming celebration of Christmas.

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