Advent 2021


The First Sunday of Advent: One Step Ahead

Running at NightAs we enter the season of Advent, we enter into a period of joyful anticipation. The Gospel today reminds us of what we are preparing for: standing before the Son of Man. Jesus tells us that we will face tribulations, and “on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves” (Luke 21:25). It is easy to become frightened, discouraged or disillusioned in this long, arduous time of waiting—choosing to remain trusting and joyful in uncertainty is difficult. St. John Henry Newman beautifully expresses a petition for greater trust in God in his poem, “Lead, Kindly Light.”

“Lead, Kindly Light, amid the 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 reminded of this poem one cold, November evening when I was at cross-country practice with my teammates. We had just finished a fast workout, but not fast enough to beat the setting of the sun. So, we cooled down in the dark, our path dimly illuminated by a couple of iPhones. None of us could see the “distant scene,” but seeing one step ahead was enough and having each other by our sides allowed us to run boldly through the darkness. I think this cooldown in the dark is a beautiful metaphor for the spiritual life because we often can’t see God’s plan for our lives, yet we still have to trust God’s faithfulness to us as we strive to follow God in our daily lives. Additionally, we need friends with whom to make the journey. Though they are also stumbling in the dark, they are there to encourage and strengthen us.

This Advent, let us walk—or run—boldly in the paths of the Lord, trusting that our redemption is truly at hand.