Hope: honesty, openness, paying attention, expectancy.

As I said yesterday,  I’d like to suggest that Hope starts with

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

As we start Advent, those two things are in tension. As we read in Isaiah 6-64. “God, you can do this, where are you? That’s the hospital challenge, of course, the tension that families face all the time.: “God, you could take care of this, but where are you?”

0606091400.jpg>That’s the challenge we face in our hearts, too. We feel this internal struggle between “I’m hurting, but desiring” and “You are willing, but not here.”

And then we turn to Paying attention to what we can do. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians starts by inviting them to pay attention to the capacities and identity and teaching they have.

“We taught this and God has confirmed this” Paul says.

“When you are honest, you know you have these gifts to work with” Paul says.

So believe and do.

Although we can’t fix everything, what are the ways we can be preparing.

And in this first week of Advent, I have to ask, “Where can we be about lighting candles” In the light of mid-morning, a candle feels irrelevant. But in the growing darkness of this season, the simple act of lighting a candle is an act of faith, a statement of hope.

And finally, Expectancy. This is the heart of Advent.

We use Christmas morning as an archetype of expectancy. The kid opening a present. It’s what advertising is built around this time of year.

But we know, if we are honest, that those moments can be disappointing. Which was the universal response to Jesus. People expected KING and got…..Jesus. Pretty cool, but no king. Really kind, kind of shepherd-like, but no king.

And then he left.

The Isaiah words are spoken as the people of Israel, the people of God, at a time when they felt unchosen by God. It’s still true every day in many places in the world.

But the readings, from Isaiah 64 and Mark 13 and 1 Corinthians 1 point out that the first coming, the birth coming, the coming that ended with a few guys watching Jesus leave, wasn’t the end of the story.

So as we light the candle of HOPE at the beginning of Advent, in the light of the candle, watch. Because there is the confident assurance of hope.