Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is traditional to preach during Advent on the “four Last Things”—Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell. However, over the years I have turned this on its head to preach about “The Four First Things” During Advent we are meant to be watchful and alert, so it is worth looking at things from a fresh perspective and expect some Advent surprises.
The first of the “First Things” is “God” who is the source of our existence. When he revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush God said his name was “I AM.” The church teaches that this is the revelation that God is not just the creator, and not just the source of life, but that he is the very essence of being itself. To put it another way, “God does not ‘exist’ instead he IS existence.”
If God is the first of the First Things, the second “First Thing” to consider for this second week of Advent is Light.
The first thing God created was Light. Critics of the Catholic faith like to scoff and say, “Look at that silly creation story! God created light on the first day, but didn’t create the sun, moon and stars until the fourth day! How dumb is that?”
Not dumb. Pretty smart. Those who told the creation stories were not writing a scientific treatise. They were more concerned with the meaning of God’s act of creation than recording a historical or scientific account of the beginning of the world.
God created Light first because light itself is greater than the sun, moon and stars which create or reflect the light. That is to say, light exists beyond the physical sources of light. This truth is reflected in the final book of the Bible–Revelation. There we have a vision of heaven where we are told that there is neither sun, nor moon for the Lamb–Christ himself is the Light.
Jesus understands his own destiny and identity when he says, “I am the Light of the World.” The church teaches that God the Son–the second person of the Holy Trinity–was present at the foundation of the world. The world was created not just by God the Father, but by the Son and by the Holy Spirit. This is why, in that opening passage of the Book of Genesis it says that God created the heavens and earth and the Spirit was moving over the face of the waters and God said, “Let there be Light.”
The creative Word of God brings Light into the world, and later John the Evangelist says, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory–or “his radiance.”
Advent is a particular celebration of Light. We light the Advent candles and we welcome the coming of the Light of Christ into the world on Christmas night.
This is the same light that was at the beginning–the Light of the World and the light of the heavenly kingdom–Christ Jesus the Lord.