As I prepare to write about Advent, I seem to be collecting quotes about Hope, perhaps a recognition that Hope is not something we can drum up ourselves, in the cold darkness of this season; now more than ever, after the prolonged trauma and uncertainty of the pandemic and the ever present underlying anxiety of Climate chaos with vivid memories of this past summer in BC.
One of my favorite lines in the Office of Compline, or “Late Night Prayer,” is “Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.” I always take a deep breath and let it out when I say this line; I feel my body relax as I let my fears rest in God. Our hope rests in God, and Advent is a season to renew that Hope. We remind ourselves of the faithfulness of God in the past. We keep ourselves alert for God’s faithful presence with us now. I invite you to enter into the fullness of Advent readings and rituals of expanding Hope.
I know I have said this before but I am intrigued that the Hebrew word for Wait and Hope are the same root word, QVH and TIQVA; the root word means to hold onto a rope, a cord, a tether: the tension of enduring and waiting. I see all our Advent rituals of waiting as spiritual exercises in alerting ourselves to Hope, holding onto that rope. We mark our waiting with the growing flames of lighting more and more candles each week on our Advent Wreaths. We mark our waiting by opening small windows in our Advent Calendars. We mark our waiting by putting out an empty crèche and having Mary and Joseph process there step-by-step from a distant corner of the house to finally arrive Christmas Eve, then the Shepherds, then on Jan. 6 the Magi visit from far away. We mark our waiting by letting shortbread “age” to develop flavour, letting the Christmas cake slowly steep in brandy, gradually putting up lights and treasured decorations. How do you mark your waiting and hope, holding onto that rope?
May this season renew your awareness of the magnificent Love of God, which dwells in the midst of the messiness of humanity!
Blessings of Peace and Light,
Prayer for Advent
God, with unhurried gentleness you draw near to us, bidding us life our eyes to the infinite stars and open them to the ordinary wonders, numerous as snowflakes, all about us. Yet we see the waning sun, the snow upon the ground, the dazzle of holiday display, each other’s weary faces, and we know that we have seen this all before. We cannot claim a breathless anticipation of the birth of Christ. From the prophet’s good news to the shepherd’s joyful witness, we have heard it all before. The season is familiar and holds no surprises for us. God, your power and love are ancient, yet every new. Help us to see afresh the love borned into the world at each moment. Then with glad hearts may we welcome your Christ, before whom even the desert blooms and rejoices. Amen
Diane Karay from: All the Seasons of Mercy
A few quotes for the season
Hope is the presentiment that the imagination is more real, and reality less real, than we had thought. It is the sensation that the last word does not belong to the brutality of facts with their oppression and repression. It is the suspicion that reality is far more complex than realism would have us believe, that the frontiers of the possible are not determined by the limits of the present, and that miraculously and surprisingly, life is readying the creative event that will open the way to freedom and resurrection.
Rubem Alves. Brazilian Theologian and Philosopher and one of the founders of Liberation Theology
Ask not. Doubt not. You have, my heart, already chosen the joy of Advent. . As a force against your own uncertainty, bravely tell yourself, “It is the Advent of the great God”. Say this with faith and love, and then both the past of your life, which has become holy, and your life’s eternal, boundless future will draw together in the now of this world. For then, into the heart comes the One who is Advent, the boundless future who is already in the process of coming, the Lord, who has already come into the time of flesh to redeem it.
As prayer leads us into the house of God and God’s people, so action leads us back into the world to work there for reconciliation, unity and peace. Once we have come to know the truth we want to act truthfully and reveal to the world its true nature. All human action, whether it is visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or working for a more just and peaceful society — is a manifestation of the human solidarity revealed to us in the house of God. It is not an anxious human effort to create a better world. It is a confident expression of the truth that in Christ, death, evil and destruction have been overcome. It is not a fearful attempt to restore a broken order. It is a joyful assertion that in Christ all order has already been restored. It is not a nervous effort to bring divided people together, but a celebration of an already established unity. …Those acting within the house of God point through their action to the healing, restoring, redeeming, and re-creating presence of God.
Henri J. M. Nouwen Lifesigns