Advent Devotional – Monday, December 21

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Week 4 – December 21 – Peace, Love and Hope

Reflector: Lisa Carr

What Do I See As Hope for the Future?
I’m writing this post-election, and I kind of wish I hadn’t agreed to write about hope…. Yet I knew it would help me further discern how I view hope, which I have been wrestling with this year. When I have asked others what hope means to them, the answers are varied. “Hope is expecting something good” (similar to Advent). “Hope is a process, not an outcome or circumstance.” “Hope is an orientation.” “Hope is having options.” “Hope is trusting God.” “Hope is a belief that love is stronger than hate or fear.” Etc., etc. What does hope mean to you?

How does hope help when we are “Facing the Challenge of Change”?
This year, it feels like the waves of challenge and change are one storm after another. I can relate to the disciples when they are out in a boat in a storm, afraid…and Jesus is sleeping. The disciples hope and expect that Jesus will make things better for them. Sometimes that’s what we expect of our leaders too. Yet Jesus allows the storm to help teach the disciples how to respond differently to the waves and wind.

In the Luke scripture for this week, there are also waves of upheaval and change. The powerful are brought down, and the lowly are lifted up. The hungry are filled, not with the world’s discards, but with good things while the rich leave empty. And God? Among all of this, God is present, and God extends mercy.

Do you feel the movement in this passage? The switching of places? It isn’t just about helping the underdog rise, though if we’re the underdog that’s what we need and hope for. The movement is also away from what each has and toward what each doesn’t have. Power toward powerlessness; powerlessness toward power. Fullness toward hunger; hunger toward fullness. Riches toward poverty; poverty toward riches. The opportunity to live and better understand another’s experience.

What changes within you when you live a new experience? When you lose what you may have taken for granted – or receive exactly what you need and don’t have but thought it was out of reach? This year these challenges might include necessary basics like a job, food, housing, insurance, school, childcare, health, social support, or gathering with friends and family.

How may losing or receiving something increase your gratitude, compassion, and understanding of others? And how does either move you to act with more mercy and kindness – both toward others and toward yourself?

I think of times when losing or receiving something has broken my heart open and enlarged it – and God’s mercy teaches me about hope. I learn that challenge and change are eased by mercy and hope. And mercy and hope are often demonstrated by simple acts of kindness and compassionate presence.

Prayer: God of mercy and compassion, keep teaching us about hope. Break our hearts open so our capacity to extend kindness, compassion, and love expands. Amen.