Advent Hope - Reflections - November 29, 2017

 1st Sunday of Advent
 December 3, 2017

 Lamentations 3:21-24

 This Sunday the season of Advent begins in the church. The Advent season encompasses the four Sundays before Christmas Day. Interestingly, this year, the 4th Sunday of Advent is Christmas Eve; we will think Advent thoughts before noon and move to Christmas thoughts in the evening.

 In Advent, a candle is lit each Sunday – often in our homes as well as at church – and over the centuries, different frameworks have specified a concept represented by each candle each Sunday. This year at Gloria Dei our candles are signifying Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. This first Sunday is hope.

 What is hope?

Yes, yes, I know there is that famous answer from Emily Dickinson: Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words — And never stops at all. People love that one.

Other thoughts on hope: 

However long the night, the dawn will break. - African, Hausa Tribe

Hope begins in the dark, that stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.  - Anne Lamott

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope. - Dr. Martin Luther King, JR

Hope is being able to see that there is light in spite of all the darkness. - Desmond Tutu

When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.      - Pittacus Lore

Hope is definitely not the same as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of outcome. 
- Václav Havel.

OK. What is hope?

If we put all those quotes together: waiting and hope are connected. And hope seems to bring redemption from the experience of not-hope.

One of my favorite verses from the Psalms, which BTW, are all very hopeful in general, is from Psalm 62.5: For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. 

Hope is counting on God. 

Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing… in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ - Genesis 12: 1

Hope is promise.

In Ecclesiastes 9 Mr. Eat-drink-and-be-merry-because-we-all-die-anyway, shares this thought: whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 

Hmmm. Hope is that we are in this together?  We are not alone. We are God’s people.

A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors… The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand … and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 26:4-8

Hope is wandering together through a desert for 40 years. Hope is following a pillar of cloud instead of a road. Hope is trusting food and water will be provided. 

Hope is counting on God. 

When in the future your child asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall answer, ‘By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. Exodus 13.14

Hope is hearing the story again and again: God brought us out of bondage. Hope is a word of comfort to exiles. Since that happened then, it can happen now. 

Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established. 2 Samuel 7:16

Hope is a light that shines in the darkness. David’s throne was established for all time. Hope is assurance.

But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Luke 24.21

Hope is feeling your heart burn again on a dusty road to Emmaus, just when you thought hope had died on a cross.

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25

Waiting and hope are connected.

Hope is a promise that the One who has come, is come in this moment, and is coming in the future.

Hope is Emmanuel, God with Us.

Ok. Your turn.

What is your answer? What is hope for you?

You can share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245