Advent is often referred to as the season of hope. Candles symbolize light and hope we hold in our hearts. We wait with hope for the coming of Jesus on Christmas morning. We hope for renewal as 2011 turns into 2012.
What does Jesus bring to your life that you are hoping for in Christmas?
What are your hopes for 2012?
I love that the gospel for the season of Advent is filled with images of John the Baptist as he becomes a symbol of hope. In part, I think that John is a great symbol of hope because he does not sit passively waiting for Jesus to show up. It is his hope in Jesus that pushes him to act. At times, it can be easy to think of hope as passively waiting.
Sister Joan Chittester, a Benedictine nun, would challenge us otherwise. Here, on a NPR podcast, she speaks of hope as an active process that gives us courage to move. By working through struggle, we earn the right to hope. With life comes struggle, but as the soul learns to struggle, we find the courage to prevail. Hope cannot come to us authentically without the work, without the struggle. If we dare to hope for something, we must be willing to work tirelessly to make it happen. This exemplifies belief not in a Santa Claus God who passes out gifts while we sit and wait, but a God wants us to be co-creators with God while God struggles with us.
What struggles have you prevailed through this year?
What actions show that you live a life of hope?
In our story about Brian this week in SPIRIT, we can see that he has earned a right to hope. He does not sit passively waiting for his life to get better. Brian struggled when he lost his friends. He struggled to become better at sports and music. With that struggle, his soul has learned how to hope. He knew that the struggle had dignity, and that with hope and courage, he would see the other side of that struggle.
In SPIRIT, what do you see Brian hoping for? Do you think he has earned the right to hope?
In the gospel, what do you see John hoping for? Do you think he has earned the right to hope?
In the United States, what are people hoping for? Have we earned the right to hope?
This Advent is a time to have active hope. We can hope for Jesus to saturate our lives this Christmas. From that hope, we can face 2012 with courage, knowing we will continue to prevail.Photo courtesy of Svenstorm of Flickr via Creative Commons License