For many, the first Sunday in Advent is a time to talk about hope. What kind of hope will sustain us in our present? The troubles in the world and in our lives are real. God’s hope is also real.

I come alongside individuals, groups and communities in the context of natural and unnatural disasters. It used to be a more contained work. Pandemic life has changed that. Now it’s work that is everywhere and all the time. Fear and even desperation sometimes displaces hope at work in us and around us. Some feel lost. Others feel alone. But there are always some who start investing in life with more passion and commitment, regardless of what they realize is now out of their control. Their act is holy, fragile and yet enough to sustain themselves and others because investing and committing proclaims hope.

This year, in the RCL readings for Advent One, that kind of hope is described. In Jeremiah 33:14-16 God promises a righteous branch invested in justice and righteousness who will bring it to the land. In I Thessalonians 3:9-13, the writer is committed to finding a way to be with the community face to face and to restore their faith. The writer also calls them to reinvest in their love for each other.  Finally, in the Gospel Luke 21:25-36 we read about the fears that have overcome hope and are then directed to see in nature where new life still breaks forth with commitment to life on the earth. The lifestyles we may be living that reveal a lack of that commitment are also named.

Advent hope is this kind of hope. It’s about being “all in.”  God is. Are we?

There are reasons to feel discouraged, maybe even defeated in some aspects of our lives. But hope is not about whether we receive what we want, complete what we want, or achieve what we want to achieve in life. It’s about living with commitment in the lives we have so that God’s gospel is released into the world in every generation. It’s about investing in life with gospel gifts of Spirit like being present to those who suffer, being generous with those in need, listening to learn more from the lives of others whose experiences are different than ours, offering welcome and acceptance to others, being patient with people, advocating and choosing for the wellbeing of creation, becoming aware of privileges that separate us from each other and create injustice, standing with those who endure injustice, creating what nurtures the spirits of others, providing safety to those in danger, letting our lives be transformed in ways beyond our imagining, sharing songs and dances and art that keep us going, loving ourselves so that we know how to love others, encouraging children and young people, respecting our elders, and more. God’s hope is proclaimed and revealed in every act of living with commitment—In this life. In this world. In this moment.

Here at we are entering a Sacred Pause when writers, administrators and board will pause the work that has been ours to do for a time of rest, reflection and discernment. That’s another way to be “all in.” This is our act of commitment to be invested in ministry and supporting others in ministry with hope for now and trust in the Holy One for the future.

So, with our last post before Sacred Pause, we welcome Advent and the voices of this week’s RCL readings. God invites to us get ready for Christmas when the fullness of divine presence comes to fruition in human form. God moves closer, not further away, when disaster comes and when the best human solutions fail. When we move closer, too, we participate in that same Advent hope. Move closer, together. Invest. Recommit. Choose presence. Live deeply into “now” with the gifts of the gospel and spread hope. Be all in the way God is “all in.”

To all who are afraid, to all who doubt God’s promises, to all whose faith isn’t up to “now”, to all who cannot find their way, to all overcome with grief, to all overshadowed every day with persistent injustice, to all living with pain, to all left on the fringes of community and family, to all who serve without adequate resources or support, and to all who may nonetheless move one step closer to all of it because that’s what God does—Blessed Advent. Blessed Sacred Pause. Blessed Creation. Blessed Humanity. Blessed is the Fruit of Mary’s womb!

Diane Strickland is in her 33rd year as an ordained minister now serving in The United Church of Canada as retired clergy. She is a Certified Community and Workplace Traumatologist, Compassion Fatigue Specialist-Therapist, and Critical Incident Responder, author and creator of trauma informed resources.

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4 thoughts on “RCL, Advent 1, Nov. 28, 2021. God is all in. Are We?

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