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Tuesday of the Third Week in Advent

My favorite image for this Advent season is that of light breaking into the midst of darkness. That is such a hopeful and powerful image that speaks particularly to this time of year. This is such a dark time. Days are at their shortest; it seems like I go to work in the dark and no sooner than I get home after work it is dark again. There is so much darkness. But against the darkness we add lights. We decorate our houses, we light Christmas trees. We put up candles and displays. In church we light advent wreathes and each week light more candles. We look to light in the midst of the darkness. 
And that is what this season proclaims. The light of Christ is coming into the midst of our darkness. The hard fact of our lives is that they can be dark. Our world is dark with wars and floods and political unrest and hatred and anger. I watch the evening news and I can feel the darkness closing in. Whether it’s suffering a loss, receiving a hard medical diagnosis, struggling with family, or addiction overwhelms us or a loved one — there is just so much darkness. 
But Advent is the promise of light. It is the promise of God’s own light given in Jesus Christ. God knows our darkness, and He will not leave us in it. And so God sends Jesus as light and newness for us. Jesus as light pierces the darkness and shows us God’s own hope. In Jesus we encounter the very light of God. 
The beauty of light is that it always overcomes darkness. The beauty of Jesus is that He overcomes all that can befall us. Nothing will stop the light of Jesus Christ! Or as Isaiah puts it in today’s reading, “those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” We look to the celebration of God’s light among us!
Look to all the emphasis on lights this time of year — house decorations, lighted Christmas trees, candles, — and let the lights remind you of the light of Christ who came for you and me. 

Prayer: Holy God, we know too much of darkness. It overwhelms us, overpowers us. But You are light! Come to us anew in Your goodness and hope. Lead us in Your light! Amen.

Devotion written by The Rev. Dr. Mark H. Braaten

“Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, c. 304”

This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After several challenging years in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.

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