Sometimes hope starts with honesty.

“Look down from heaven and see, from your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭63:15‬ ‭

Those are stark words to use at the beginning of a new year, particularly when we are talking about the church year:  “Where are you God?”

0606091400.jpgYesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. For big parts of the church, Advent is a name for the month before Christmas, the four Sundays that prepare us for the celebration of the coming of Jesus.

We know, of course, that Jesus may have been born in the spring, that putting Christmas right after the winter solstice may have been a way to take a pagan feast and put a holy spin on it. But the idea of having the cycle of celebrations in a year is a human thing, is a God thing.

We are on a planet that takes 360-some days to complete and orbit of the sun. The moon orbits us in about a month. The scriptures talk about a creation process of seven days. The days have light and dark, built around the rotation of the earth. And so we have days and weeks and months and years, and starting the year with anticipation of the coming of Christ, the first and second time makes sense.

But the church year starts a little rough. If we are nice in describing it, the first Sunday of Advent is about hope. But the way that the story starts, there is little hope. Instead, there is an honesty about a feeling of abandonment.

In the text in Isaiah, the people say, “We know we screwed up, God but was it as bad as this? Why have you left us for this long?”

On this first Sunday of Advent, this Sunday of Hope, I’d like to suggest that HOPE starts with a couple things:

  • Honest acknowledgement of a sense of struggle
  • Openness to God’s power and role

We’ll look at these, and the other two letters of hope, in the next couple days.

+++

Saint John of the Mall may be a way to help a friend think through getting ready for Christmas.  It’s available in paperback and Kindle.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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