The expectation and preparation of Advent is an expectation and a preparation that we take on as we step forward to contend with all those things that stand in the way of the powers of light, the power of Christ. In the Letter to the Ephesians, the author paints a picture of putting on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes on feet for proclaiming and the shield of faith...This clothing is symbolically what we put on when we prepare to contend with the challenges of this life.
God has given us the garments of protection and power to help us to step up and stand firm with courage. Looking deeply within us where the Spirit has placed its essence will lead us to see that we have the power within, from God, through Christ and the Spirit to take on all the challenges of this life - all the challenges of the darkness of our time - all the challenges that surround us. As we enter the final few darkest days in the year (in the Northern Hemisphere), we acknowledge the ways that the darkness can surround us, and so we enfold ourselves in the light of God, the light of Christ, the light that offers us the garments with which we can contend with any challenges put before us.
As we began Advent with the lines in Romans and the Collect from Advent I emphasizing "putting on the armor of light," so also today, we read about the garments of light and truth and righteousness and proclamation that God has provided for us.
I take these strange words and this strange metaphor as a radical call to action, and to courageously finding a way to stand firm on the side of God.
14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.