Hope. Such a short word; such earth-shaking meaning. It inspires us, lightens our loads, carries us onward. Hand in hand with faith, Hope draws us out of ourselves and into something greater. And in this first week of Advent, our focus on Hope brings us ever nearer to true Love, Joy, and Peace.
Wait in Joyful Hope
What does it look like to wait in joyful hope? That’s the whole idea behind Advent, isn’t it? To wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
In my mind’s eye, when I think of this phrase, I see a child with an upturned face, silhouetted against the light of a Christmas tree. Her eyes alight with excitement and the smallest of smiles tugs at the corners of her mouth. Though she sits still, there’s a noticeable energy to her stillness that says she could bounce up at any moment. Perhaps her hands fidget, picking at her fingers or tugging at her clothes.
As I continue to imagine, my thoughts move forward in time to envision an expectant mother. Against the same silhouetted lights, this time the young woman’s gaze is focused downward. Her eyes concentrate on the swell of her belly and that same small smile tugs at the corners of her lips. Her energy is evident now as her hands move, caressing and cradling her unborn child.
It’s funny to me that waiting, a word that usually conjures feelings of dullness or boredom, when combined with hope, becomes a much more active proposition.
Hope and Faith
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
What do you hope for this Advent? Do you have faith that those hopes will be realized? Where in your life has God given you evidence of His love for you, even if it’s been hard to see?
As for me, I have faith. I truly believe that my hope in the coming of Jesus into my heart and the hearts of those I love on Christmas morning will be realized. I have faith that, even if His love remains difficult for some to see, the grace of Christ’s love will be planted deep within each of us.
I also believe that this faith, this Hope, is what leads us in preparing not only our hearts for Christmas, but our homes and hearths, as well.
A Season of Preparation
Have you started Christmas shopping yet? I certainly have. As of the end of Black Friday, I had mostly finished shopping for our kids. Then yesterday, after Mass, my daughter and I hauled all of the boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations out of the storage closet. It’s my husband and sons’ job to put up the two trees and make sure all of the lights work (some years, that’s a bigger job than others!). But all of the other decorating? That’s up to me.
As Christmas draws closer, there will be school concerts to attend and family obligations to fulfill. The house will need to be cleaned, presents bought and wrapped, cookies baked, stories read. Our already miles long to-do lists stretch ever longer and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the challenges these supposedly happy duties bring.
But what if we add Hope into the mix? Just as hope changes our waiting from drudgery to joy, can’t it change our commitments from being things we have to do into things we get to do?
Just Add Hope
Advent began yesterday and, with it, our season of preparation. This preparation can be simply physical, of course. But just add hope and see if you can find the spiritual hidden within.
With every gift we buy, let us ask Jesus for the gift of His love.
When we clean our homes, we’ll ask Him for help in the cleaning of our souls.
While preparing meals, we can ask for the grace of entering the eternal feast of Heaven.
When the Christmas tree lights won’t stay on, ask our Father to send His light to our hearts.
When our patience grows thin, we’ll ask for calm.
If our hearts are grieving, we’ll not dismiss the sadness, but cling to the hope of the Resurrection.
And when peace seems unattainable, we’ll make ourselves slow down and breathe. Taking a necessary moment to reunite our hearts and our purpose to the true meaning of the season.
My Hope for You
I hope you are blessed with an increase in faith this season, my friend. I hope your soul is nurtured by the love of the Christ Child. And more than anything, I wait in joyful hope with you for the fullness of Love, Joy, and Peace that is yet to come.