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Hope: An Advent Post

December 9, 2013

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As advent draws to its climax — the candles gradually being lit around the wreath at church, the snow flurries that remind us we are getting deeper into December — there comes to mind the words of the New England poet, Emily Dickenson:

“Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches on the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all . . .”

If there is one word that characterizes the advent season, it is hope. The more we wait, the more hope build up inside us like the gentle tune of the little bird in Dickenson’s poem. Many things might try to drown that voice out. Our own doubts and fears, our uncertainties and problems, even our comforts and our successes can tempt us to forget or ignore the small voice of hope which God places in our hearts. Yet, still, three weeks into Advent, it sings on:

“And sweetest in the gale is heard,
And sore must be the storm
That could upset this little bird
That kept so many warm.”

Hope, like the flame on an Advent candle, warms us from the secret chambers where God dwells. A tiny spark that spreads into every corner of our lives — that is hope. A gift from the Most High which can be given to all we meet — that is hope. A challenge to live every day to its fullest — a promise of grace in our most trying moments — a source of strength to the most weary, the most discouraged, the most abandoned — this is hope. And it IS a gift, like Faith and Love. It is given and never demands anything but acceptance from us:

“I’ve heard it on the farthest shore
And on the strangest sea —
But never — in extremity —
It asked a crumb — from me.”

This gift of quiet inner strength and of the warmth of God’s grace is Jesus’ gift to us this Christmas. It will not ask a crumb from us. Only gratitude. And we who live on the farthest shores and on the strangest seas . . . will we hear the tune? Will hope sing for us? For it is the secret joy hidden in every Christmas carol. Be ready — awake — the Lord is near!

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From → Musings

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