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HOPE: THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Updated: Dec 20, 2023




*Photo by Marilyn S. Minney


It was a privilege to light the Hope Advent Candle, deliver the meditation, and read my poem “Hope” Sunday morning at the Harmony Springs Christian Church in Green, Ohio. The theme of our advent this year is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!”

 

Here is what I said:

 

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HARMONY SPRINGS CHRISTIAN CHURCH

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

HOPE

December 03, 2023

 

Advent is  based on an ancient Latin word. Ad is Latin for “to and vent for “come.” At Advent, we remember God coming to us in Jesus. We look back to Jesus’ first coming.

 

On the First Sunday of Advent, we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, which is often purple or blue in color. This candle is called the "Hope" or "Prophet's Candle,” symbolizing anticipation, penance, and preparation. The Scripture readings and prayers during this week often focus on the prophecies in the Old Testament about the promised Savior and the expectation of His arrival.

 

Throughout the first week of Advent, we  reflect on the theme of hope and the idea that Christ's coming into the world brings hope to a world in need of salvation, perhaps now more than any other time. It's a time for us to meditate on the prophecies in the Bible

that foretold His birth.

 

But, what is hope? In the selfishness of today’s world, hope means a few things:

 

Ø  Wishful thinking: I hope it’s sunny today. I hope it snows on Christmas. I hope the pastor’s message is not too long.

 

Ø  Positivity: A kind of optimism that the best is still ahead.

 

Ø  Statistics and probability or analytics as it’s called in sports: What are the chances this play will result in a touchdown?

 

But, is that the way that Hope is intended in the scriptures? Probably not. Hope during Advent probably means “The expectation that something good will happen based on faith in the promises of God.”

 

Although not necessarily based on the promises of God, when you consider National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, there is no one more hopeful than Clark Griswold:

 

Ø  He’s hopeful of having the biggest possible Christmas tree.

 

Ø  He’s hopeful of having the most spectacular outdoor light display.

 

Ø  He’s hopeful of getting his bonus so he can install a swimming pool for the enjoyment of his family.

 

Ø  But, most of all, he’s hopeful of giving his family a Christmas experience that they will not soon forget.

 

And, he certainly accomplishes that.

 

Despite all of the confusion, catastrophes, and chaos, he is still hopeful when he says, “Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together.”

 

Friends, we are all in this thing called Harmony Springs together as we look forward with Hope and ask, “What’s next God?”

 

HOPE

 

Stepping into the elevator, 

not caring whether it’s going up or down,

a pimple on the face of the earth

to be squeezed until it bursts,

invisible to the other passengers,

 

     the society woman staring silently ahead,

     the bucktoothed boy in uniform

          absently twisting his dog tags around his fingers,

     the business-suited man talking boldly into what seems to be space

          until noticing the ear buds growing out of his head,

 

the operator a beautiful devil

guiding us past interesting stops on our way

to the outskirts of hell.

 

Living in this pandemic ravaged world

is like standing alone in our hopes and dreams

or being an ominous distracted mourner at our own funeral,

taking a vow of emotional poverty,

knowing deep down that we cannot treat

the wounds of this tortured world,

beauty and kindness buried under so much dirt.  

 

White capped surges,

birthed deep at sea

massage gritty shores,

a faery light quivers

in distant forest shadows,

 

hope is more than wishful thinking

it is both safe and uncomfortable,

calling us outside of ourselves

to live with reckless abandon,

 

hope is freedom

stripping us of our fears 

like discarding our dirty clothes 

to dance naked with God.

 

 

 

©2023 by Barbara Marie Minney.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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Barbara Marie Minney is a transgender woman, award-winning poet, writer, speaker, teaching artist, and quiet activist. She is a retired attorney and a seventh generation Appalachian. Now based in Tallmadge, Ohio, her first collection of poetry entitled “If There’s No Heaven” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and the Akron Beacon Journal Best Northeast Ohio Books 2020. It is available from the author or at www.poetryislifepublishing.com. Barbara is also the author of the "Poetic Memoir Chapbook Challenge," "Dance Naked with God," and the forthcoming "A Woman in Progress." Follow her at www.barbaramarieminneypoetry.com.

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