November 29, 2020
First Sunday of Advent
Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.~ Romans 5:5
When we anchor our hope in God’s steady love and good plans for us, hope becomes a permanent part of us. –Mary Lou Redding, While We Wait
As a young child I loved the Christmas Season which I now know as Advent. The lights, the music (Bing Crosby), and the general good moods of parents, teachers, and kids alike was wonderful. The Season was the only time of year we used the word “merry.” The sound of voices singing “Merry Christmas” seemed to change the very air we breathed.
One of my favorite rituals was our family’s eight-hour drive from Central Texas to Wichita, Kansas to spend Christmas with family. The drive was unbearably long and so exciting because we were going to Grandma’s, and she always decorated her house inside and out with bright lights and nativity scenes. Every shelf had chocolate candy for the taking. And, Grandma always had the most beautiful evergreen tree that seemed to take up the entire living room. Her place was truly a magical winter wonderland.
On that long drive to Wichita, I just imagined what lay ahead. The closer we got, the more excited I became. My sister and I moaned every time we stopped for gas or a restroom break. We just had to get to Grandma’s house because we knew that something good, something wonderful was waiting for us.
Do we believe that life is headed somewhere good this Christmas Season?
Advent, which comes from the Latin for “a coming, an approach, or an arrival” is upon us. Do we, like small children, have “a flame of expectant anticipation that something rich, something special, is on its way” asks Beth Richardson? Do we live in hope, that despite our current struggles, God has something good in store for us?
From the beginning in the first chapter of Genesis we find a God joyfully creating the heavens and the earth, light and water, plants and trees, and four legged and two legged creatures. Our creator sings, “It is good!” Richard Rohr says, “From the moment of our universe’s inception, along the slow stages of evolution, and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and beyond we see that life is headed somewhere good. We can trust that death simply brings new forms of love making itself known.”
What? Are things really moving forward? Are we evolving?
Grace slowly moved through the desert to the Promised Land. It was a journey with many steps forward and backward. The disciples followed Jesus and said they were in and then they said they were out and then they were in again. Christ’s love continually forgave and restored them. God’s patience and faithfulness dragged us through the ignorance of slavery and walked with us across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. God’s love marched and picketed with the farmworkers of the San Joaquin Valley, the Salinas Valley, and the Imperial Valley of California as they sang with Christ, “Viva La Causa!” God holds our hand when we are grieving, and the Spirit rejoices with us when celebrate new life.
Does the moral arc of the universe bend towards justice? Does hope spring eternal?
I believe that history and our faith story show that Christ (God’s loving presence and plan—always and everywhere) again and again draws us and creation toward greater wholeness, fullness, and union says Father Richard Rohr. “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16).
Hope is the conviction that things are evolving in a positive direction; and, make no mistake, evolution is never a straight path, but three steps forward and two steps back as we can readily see in our collective history and our personal lives. Grace and love are working through us and the world and something good is on the way. Christ is born within us again and again. “God’s hope for history seems to be that humanity will one day be able to recognize its own dignity as the divine dwelling place which it also shares with the rest of creation,” says Rohr.
May our Christmas season be filled with promise.
May we experience God’s intimate love and grace moving through us and through our world.
May we find within our hearts “a place where the light shines with tender memories.”
May we live with hope.
Blessings, peace, and hope,
Practice: Ask yourself each day, when and how did I experience God’s love for me today? Keep a journal.