The Gift of… (Part 2)
Hope is this beautiful gift that emerges from the darkest places of our despair and longing. It is what we cling to when sorrow grips our hearts and rivers of sadness flow from our eyes. When pain cripples our bodies, when we are met with loss, failure, unmet expectations and when we have no answers, hope whispers from the shadows and encourages us to keep pushing forward. Sometimes the moving forward is not the giant leaps, and the hope we cling to is just enough to get us through one moment to the next. And in those moments, we find the courage and strength, at times through tears, frustration, uncertainty anger or fear, but somehow, some way we make it through.
With just a few days remaining in what has been one of the most tumultuous years that many of us have experienced, in spite of the uncertainty of what is to come, there is an almost unspoken expectation that there must be something better that will meet us in the New Year. As many of us have treaded through the turbulent waters of 2020, the magic and wonder of the Christmas season seem to offer, ever so slightly, a beacon of hope for us to capture and embrace the joy around us. With childlike wonder and longing, we anxiously await those moments where we can rest and breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Romans 8 reveals to its readers, this intense longing that creation collectively experiences while awaiting a glorious time when all that is broken will be beautified, when the wrongs will be made right. Yet in the midst of this passage that offers a glimpse into the glory that is to come, verse 23 poses a question: “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” This question reminds us that hope by its very definition requires there to be something that is lacking, and this is where we dwell in the space of longing for that which has not manifested.
Regardless of one’s faith background or how the holidays are celebrated or not, the timeless stories of Christmas remain just as relevant centuries later to offer to many the gift of hope. Whether embracing the story of the miraculous conception and birth of the long-prophesied Messiah who appeared to commoners and kings or the magical tale of a rosy-cheeked man who brings gifts to all the children of the world, Christmas is a time to hope for what may seem impossible. This is the time of year where the magical and the miraculous seem to be accepted in spite of belief systems, faith expression, culture or personal choice.
“Come, thou long expected Jesus/Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us/ Let us find our rest in thee”
Until such time we will await with wonder in our hearts, we hold space for wonder, expectation and celebrate the gift of hope.