by Pamela C. Hawkins
Hope. Perhaps no other word better illumines the Advent story. Hope that Mary would say Yes! Hope that Joseph would not reject her upon hearing the news of her pregnancy. Hope that their long journey to Bethlehem would bring no harm. Hope that the bright star overhead would bring only good.
Parents hope for room in an inn. Shepherds hope for good news of a birth in a manger. Angels hope for peace in human hearts. Advent could not be Advent without hope. Not at the first and not today, for without the borning cry of hope, the world could descend into deadening discouragement.
Hope opens something in the human heart. Like shutters slowly parting to admit a winter dawn, hope permits strands of light to make their way to us, even when we still stand in cold darkness; but hope also reveals a landscape beyond us into which we can live and move and have our being. With hope, closely held interior thoughts are gently turned outward; deep desires, perhaps long hidden in secret corners of our heart, might be lifted up to the light. At times, hope peels back the edges of our imagination to free what waits underneath—a changed life, a new resolve, a yes pregnant with possibility. In other moments hope dares us to unfold a layer of desire—for relationship, for clarity, for courage.
In the stories and season of Advent, God opens everything to us through hope born of expectation—expectation that Christ is coming to make all things new. And in the coming of Christ we find the coming of hope, made real in time, space, and flesh.
May you, like an expectant parent, use these days and nights prayerfully hoping for what is to come. May you live through the scriptures of this season, in which the light of God’s hope breaks in on a waiting world to illumine the landscape in which we live and move and have our being.
Pamela C. Hawkins serves as managing editor of Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life.
This excerpt is reprinted from Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins. ©2007 by Upper Room Books®. Used by permission from Upper Room Books®. To order, phone 1.800.972.0433 or go to www.upperroom.org/bookstore.