This week I wanted to spend time listening to Christmas music, wrapping Christmas gifts and baking Cranberry bread. I did these things, but along with so many others , I struggled, shattered by news of more violence against innocent people , heartbreaking photos of grief-stricken families, terrified refugees, and the darkness of human hearts without hope and faith and love.
I have this pottery jar on my kitchen window sill. It has been shaped and fired and given as a gift of love. In deeper, mysterious ways, Advent is expressed hope, shaped and fired and given. In the darkest of times, this hope remains.
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless. Gilbert K. Chesterton
Texas has received devastating damage throughout the state delivered by deluges of rain, tornadoes, and rivers out of their banks. 46 counties have been declared disaster areas. In our town alone, a severe storm system which produced more than 11 inches of rain in 11 hours began a week that finds the entire metropolitan area of Houston in the throes of historic flooding. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed, motorists stranded. Rivers continue to rise. The Brazos River, near my neighborhood, is expected to reach flood stage tomorrow. We have a good levee system here and should be OK, but two nearby communities which are near other stretches of the river are already evacuating. I pray for strength and peace for those who are suffering tragedy and for those who will face unknown trials in the next few days. And I claim hope, the kind of expectant waiting that provides strength and endurance and perseverance. .It is so needed for those in the throes of crisis now. It will be needed in the days to come as people who are hurt and grieving must begin to rebuild not only their homes but their very lives.
in the Jewish faith, blue is the color of hope, in Christianity, purple candles in the Advent wreath symbolize hope, a time of waiting and hoping. Others say green is the color of hope as it comes to us when spring is on its way, in hope and expectation of a new season of growth. I like that.
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! ~ Romans 15:13 The Message
Last night we attended a Christmas concert at our 11 year old granddaughter’s school. As one of the older children, she walked tall and proud to her seat to play her flute in a medley of Christmas music and we loved it. Soon the stage was filled many smaller children who sang and jingled their bells. One of their songs stuck in my head, and I have hummed it all day. A a simple song, “Light One Candle” by Natalie Sleeth.
Light one candle for hope,
One bright candle for hope.
He brings hope to everyone.
He comes. He comes.
Verses 2, 3 and-4 replace hope with peace, joy, and love.
As we light the candles in our Advent wreaths and welcome His coming, may our song be the same. He comes. He comes.
The Advent calendar we used when our sons were little came with a book. My sons took turns opening the windows of a cardboard Bethlehem where they would find a symbol. That picture or symbol would then be found on a page in their book where a short story explained it. I will always remember their fingers pulling the windows open to discover what was uncovered. The very first window opened to a dark, menacing cloud, sign of the troubled times for the people of Judah long ago.
Like those who longed for help and hope groaned under the darkness of oppression and fear, we come as Advent begins each year with our dark clouds of doubt and anxiety as we again seek hope and light. I love the poetry of Ann Weems. She wrote from a place of loss and vulnerability, with transparency and honesty sharing both her pain and her faith.
“Some of us walk into Advent
tethered to our unresolved yesterdays
the pain still stabbing
the hurt still throbbing.
It’s not that we don’t know better;
it’s just that we can’t stand up anymore by ourselves.