Tomorrow is the first day of Advent 2016.

When I was growing up, we didn’t do much with the liturgical calendar in my faith tradition. It was too much “other”… We celebrated Christmas and Easter–but that was about the extent of my knowledge of this ancient Christian tradition.

But I’ve grown to appreciate it as I’ve grown older–and as my faith tradition has incorporated more of it into our understanding.

And so tomorrow…the first Sunday of Advent–incorporating the idea of hope.¬†That seems an appropriate emphasis, especially in this time when so many are wondering what there is to have hope about.

Advent is a time of preparation…a time when–in the broader context of my religious background–we look to the coming of the Christ. We celebrate his coming 2000 years ago…and we also look to his coming in our time.

That coming can take many forms…not just the physical coming of a specific individual. It can come as people live out their best understanding of the message of hope, peace, love, and acceptance that was taught 2000 years ago. In a world filled with so much hatred and division, there are still those times when I look around and see it happening…and those are my reasons for hope.

  • Over the Thanksgiving weekend, two strangers came together and became friends. It started with an accidental tweet from a grandmother to a young man she thought was her grandson (wrong address!) but when she discovered the error, she still invited him to join with her family–and he did. They took a chance with each other–and found new connections.
  • An 86-year-old man taught himself to knit in order to make tiny caps for preemies. At this point he’s made 50…and inspired friends to make another 300. (And he plans on continuing to knit.)
  • A mother wrote her ex’s new girlfriend a thank you note…thanking her for the care she has for their shared daughter.
  • A little boy called 911…his emergency was that they were having Thanksgiving dinner and he wanted the deputies to join them (which they did).

There are others–I’m sure you’ve seen them and could share. These were just the first that came to mind for me.

Yes, there are reasons for despair–plenty of them. And yet…if we fall into that trap, we lose the wonder of this time of preparation…and we perpetuate those feelings and attitudes.

I want to see with eyes of hope. Clear-eyed…not ignoring the challenges and problems…but looking for ways to transform them…to prepare myself for living so that when others look at me, they can see the presence of the Christ in my choices and words…so that I can be a true representative of the One I try to follow.


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