2021 Advent Devotional: In the Midst of Changing Ways – Many Gifts, One Spirit
Week 4: The Gift of Hope
Scripture: Micah 5:4-5 – “And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be one of peace.”
Reflector: Jana Milford
What is hope to me and where have I found it?
Hope is a difficult word. We use it so casually in everyday conversation. “I hope the weather will be good for our hike tomorrow.” “I hope you find some time to relax this weekend.” And then we use it profoundly. “I hope for justice.” “I hope that racism will end.”
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says, “The meaning of hope is to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.” That explains why hope is hard. It includes both wanting and an expectation that something is possible. Wanting is the easy part.
How do we find hope for anything transcendent, when it’s hard to “think that it could happen or be true”? It’s hard to watch my mom’s frustration as dementia robs her of her memories and ability to care for herself. It’s hard to envision that humanity can turn the corner and address climate change in time. It’s hard to see the arc of history bending towards justice when racism and xenophobia seem to be on the rise.
I don’t think I’m good at finding hope, but nevertheless hope finds me. It appears in the miracle of a hummingbird or a snowflake. It springs from the kindness of my mom’s caregivers. It sparks from the students in my class who aim to use what they’re learning to reduce the damage we’re doing to the environment. Hope interrupts my natural pessimism like my cat wakes me in the morning – with a nudge to get up, because something is needed, and there is something I can do to help.
Prayer: God, thank you for the gift of hope at Christmas, when we celebrate your promise that love abides. Help us respond to that promise by sharing your love with others. Amen.