Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent starts with hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Emily Dickinson

The Advent season, like most things, starts with hope.

Advent is the season of waiting and preparation. Not merely a time to wait or prepare for Christmas festivities but a time set aside to wait for Christ.

In lighting a single candle, we recapitulate the entirety of the divine plan. From the promise of Eden and  the whole of Israel’s messianic longing to the parousia of Christ at the end of the age, the story of creation is a tale of hope, hope thwarted and hope redeemed.

We light a single candle in the falling darkness of December. For a full week, a single flame shines on candles yet unlit while we wait for the coming of peace, love and joy and their fulfillment in Christ. By Christmas eve, the hope candle will have burnt low; yet in the darkest days of the year we are not in darkness. And even if the candle of hope gutters, hopelessly spent, yet the other lights of advent shine and sustain us.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love
I Corinthians 13:13

Hope precedes Peace in the advent cycle. We long for the peace of reconciliation in families, in congregations and in communities. Do we hopelessly scan the headlines for peace between nations?  It is hope that sanctifies our longings; it is faithful hope that converts our wishes to prayers.

…hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.
Romans 8:24-26

Start the season with hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:: 13

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