Sunday, November 30, 2008

advent: we will have hope

This marks the first week of advent. Sunday was the first Sunday of the season, so you aren't too far behind if you've missed it.

We greatly appreciate the season of advent each year as it helps us focus on the reason we have something to celebrate this time of year. By the time Christmas comes, I feel as though I have been waiting for it a long time and am ready to burst. Though, to be honest, Christmas always feels like a let-down after Advent because I'm not at some great party where we all sing songs and dance because Jesus came to earth. No, more likely than not, I'm looking for so-and-so's present and eating food I didn't even have the joy of making. (Pat and I are strange people who actually LIKE the idea of hosting large meals, except for the dishes.) Advent, however, is more what I want out of Christmas...just lacking in full-out celebration.

I love advent because of its paradoxical nature: we look both backward and forward at the comings of Christ. Both comings give us reason to hope and reason for great longing. We see so much wrong in the world and ourselves that the "then and not yet" of Christ fills us with a yearning akin to that of lovers apart. On the one hand, it is wonderful to have as your own a person so worth missing. On the other hand, to know the thing that you miss is more difficult perhaps than not knowing what you were missing to begin with. At this time every year, we take the chance to fully miss Jesus not being here while being entirely grateful that he came in the first place and looking forward to seeing him again.

This year I am in charge of the advent proceedings at our little church. After doing a bit more research online, (if you'd like to see what I saw, go here for a bit of history and here to see a newer take on the church tradition.) I decided to write responsive readings for our youth to lead after an adult shares what that week's theme and character mean in his or her own life. The character for this week was the prophets (we read Isaiah) and the theme was hope. The couple who shared their thoughts are our friends who were able to adopt a little girl this year. They had felt for years that God wanted them to adopt a little girl through no conventional means and they spoke about how being given a promise by God can make you feel crazy and going for years without seeing the promise fulfilled makes you feel even crazier for believing it in the first place, bringing up all kinds of questions about the Promise Maker and the believer alike. However, seeing one of God's promises fulfilled is an unbelievable gift -- much better than you would have dreamed based on the words of the promise alone. God gave us the promise of His Son to the prophets long ago and when we look at the world, we can still have hope because of those same promises. And we know from particular instances (such as theirs) that the way God keeps His promises doesn't tend to look the way we would imagine it to, but is instead a better fit than we could've imagined. If I am ever able to get a copy of what they wrote to share, I will happily share it with you, as it's better written than I can do justice. However, I will share what I wrote on the subject and invite you to read along with our congregation in the coming weeks of Advent.


God has given light to the world.
We will have hope.
We live in a world full of darkness.
We will have hope.
When we see problems we can't solve.
We will have hope.
When we see a problem solved.
We will have hope.
When we don't understand why.
We will have hope.
When the bad guy wins.
We will have hope.
Because the bad guy will not win in the end.
We will have hope.
When our friend has failed us again.
We will have hope.
When we have failed again.
We will have hope.
When we see the evil in the news.
We will have hope.
When we see the evil in our hearts.
We will have hope.
Even though the world is broken.
We will have hope.
We know someone who can save the world.
We will have hope.
We know someone who has saved us.
We will have hope.
We know someone who will keep saving us.
We will have hope.
Because we are broken.
We will have hope.
Our Savior has promised to come again.
We will have hope.
Advent happens more than once.
We will have hope.
Like the prophets, we look forward to His coming!
We will have hope.

1 comment:

Connie, the daisyhead said...

Bring it, sister! Good word!