1488075_10152036574039375_1798853213_nI begin with a confession:  I am not a one who waits patiently. Under the best of circumstances, my waiting hours are filled with excited anticipation and under the worst, anxious reflection. This Advent season feels more like the second kind of waiting. You know the kind – waiting for test results or that phone call. I know it isn’t supposed to, but that’s where I am this year. And the texts this week aren’t particularly helping bring in the hope and joy of the season.

You see, I serve a church in South Minneapolis, on the other side of the city where historic Black Lives Matter protests are happening. I hear Jeremiah’s words, “The days are surely coming…” and I want that justice and righteousness right now! Last night protesters were shot at the police station and the police told them to call 911 and later maced the distraught crowd. Where is the justice? Where is the righteousness?

More globally, of course, terrorism has once again polarized the world. People are indeed fainting in foreboding and fear of what has come upon the world. Where is the strength and courage to stand strong?

Traditionally, the first Sunday in Advent is the Sunday of Hope. It’s a tough sell with these texts. Ultimate hope is a bit easier to find than immediate hope. As discouraged, exhausted, and overwhelmed as I feel, I can’t shake the notion that hope is present underneath it all. In this season we anticipate the coming of the Light of Christ while standing in that same Light. In the northern hemisphere, we see and feel the darkness descending in a very literal way. It may be easy to forget the Light that cannot be extinguished by any darkness – real or spiritual.

It’s a hard sell, though. Folks want God to break into the world and put an end to our foolishness, our sin, our destruction and raise us up in a glorious, undeniable fashion. I’m not sure that anyone really wants to hear that hope is in our hands because that same God has already revealed to us the way of life and love. So all this nervous, anxious, anticipatory energy I have, I am going to put into action. I can pray along with Jeremiah that the days of righteousness and justice will arrive and I can heed Jesus’ call to be prepared for Christ to enter into the world again. I can also, to paraphrase Ghandi, be the hope I wish to see in the world. So I’m heading off to stand with Black Lives Matter. Today is really one of those days when I think God is the one waiting for us, waiting for us to respond to the Good News and truly embody the Love gifted to us in Christ.

So where are you this week? Have you chosen Hope as your theme or are you focusing on something else? What challenges does your community face that make it hard to hear promises of justice and righteousness that seem to have gone unfulfilled? Let us know where the Spirit is leading as you grapple with these texts that begin Advent with promises that have echoed down through the centuries.

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Photo by Erika Sanborne. Used by permission.

7 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Where’s the Hope?

  1. Yes, I’m using “hope.” Hope in the root of Jesse, hope in the fig tree and hope in mistletoe. The church I serve is in the bible belt, but we do NOT let that define us. We have heard the cry all around us and confronted with bigotry and racism everyday. Now, we will take a little time for ourselves. That’s what this particular community needs right now. They don’t believe in “pie in the sky” and that’s not what I’m preaching. We will discover (together) those little glimpses of hope that are already in our lives and maybe be strong enough to bring that to the marketplace.

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  2. Just re-read my sermon from 3 years ago… I made a side mention about how it’s a little odd that we’re so excited for the coming of Jesus as a baby when his promised second coming will be a time of judgment and “signs” (per the Luke reading). Thinking about going with that for a sermon, but not sure yet…

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    1. That would be an interesting way to go. My folks would be worried if I preached on the Second Coming, but it’s a sermon I would listen to! I hope you will let us know how it all goes, particularly if you go where you are thinking at the moment.

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  3. We are finishing up 6 months of reading the entire New Testament together, so Sunday’s text is Revelation 22. We’re also reading Genesis 2 so we can remember the Garden of Eden and see the parallels in Revelation 22. Our theme is hope and my title is Regenesis, and the picture in my mind right now is of the movie Pleasantville (1998) in which black and white gradually turns to color as people are renewed/transformed. We are in danger of losing hope if we look at the world today and expect it to look like Eden or New Jerusalem. That day will come, but the recreation is already begun in us and through us. We watch for signs of change, but we are also bearers of the signs of change. I like your paraphrase of Ghandi and I may borrow it!

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    1. Wow! 6 months of reading the entire NT. That’s quite an accomplishment. I think it’s also pretty cool that you are beginning Advent with Eden and the New Jerusalem. We live between the two for sure. May it all go well with you!

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