The Advent of Hope
|A candle I lit at Cologne Cathedral and the shrine of the Magi|
It is the season of Advent. We are lighting candles at church marking time with reflections on Hope (week 1), Peace (week 2), Joy (Week 3), and Love (Week 4). These actions in time move us toward the lighting of the Christ Candle, which signals that Christ has come. Every year we repeat this effort. Our eschatology (our view of the future) may come in many forms, some are optimistic and others are pessimistic. Some visions of the future place hope in a land beyond this one, and thus no hope is held out for this world. Others invite us to attend to the needs of this world in the hope that we can participate in the renewal of God's creation. I place myself in the camp of attending to the present world without giving up a sense that there is to more to reality than what we're experiencing now.
At times like this, with the world situation in a mess (witness the NATO meetings this week, the conflagrations in Syria, the protests and crackdowns in Iran and Hong Kong, the impeachment hearings. There seem to be daily reports of mass shootings, often at schools and colleges. It's easy to understand why people give up any sense of hope that things could change.
I understand the feelings. I live in dismay at the state of affairs at the moment, and yet I continue to have hope, hope in Christ the coming one, who is the prince of peace. In this there is hope. As the Psalmist declares:
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
Won't you light a candle of hope with me? As you light the candle, might you commit yourself to living out the promise of God's peace, joy, and love?