Well, Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas Fair and Tea is fast upon us, and the season of Advent has begun. Wow, do these days start to go by quickly! As we get ready to embark on the journey through the Advent season, we are reminded that one of the themes of Advent is hope. It is, in fact, the first Advent candle that we will be lighting on November 27th, the first day of Advent.
I am reminded of the difference between passive hope and active hope. Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, in their book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy, write about the difference: “The word hope has two different meanings. The first involves hopefulness, where our preferred outcome seems reasonably likely to happen. If we require this kind of hope before we commit ourselves to an action, our response gets blocked in areas where we don’t rate our chances too high…
The second meaning is about desire…It is this kind of hope that starts our journey–knowing what we hope for and what we’d like, or love, to take place. It is what we do with this hope that really makes the difference. Passive hope is about waiting for external agencies to bring about what we desire. Active Hope is about becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for….
Active hope is a practice. Like tai chi or gardening, it is something we do rather than have. It is a process we can apply to any situation, and it involves three key steps. First, we take a clear view of reality; second, we identify what we hope for in terms of the direction we’d like things to move in or the values we’d like to see expressed; and third, we take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction…
Since Active Hope doesn’t require our optimism, we can apply it even in areas where we feel hopeless. The guiding impetus is intention; we choose what we aim to bring about, act for, or express. Rather than weighing our chances and proceeding only when we feel hopeful, we focus on our intention and let it be our guide.” If you think about it, all of those other Advent candles–peace, joy, and love–also change when you think about them as intention and action, not feelings that we have. They are not passive, but active. Think of them as verbs, not nouns. How will we act out hope, peace, joy, and love in this Advent season?
Beginning on Wednesday, November 30th, from 4-5 PM, I will be offering a ZOOM Advent film study called “Embodying Advent” which will be a series on embodiment and birthing hope, joy, peace, and love considered through the narrative of Mary. The series will be on 4 consecutive Wednesdays, ending on December 21st. Let me know if you are interested by emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you the link.
Beyond the Christmas Fair and Tea, there will be many other opportunities for fellowship and worship during the Advent/Christmas season. The Christian Education committee and Middle School Youth Group will be hosting the Advent Spiral activity on Saturday December 10th (see Patricia’s article for more info). Worship services in Advent will be full of music, both familiar and new, and we will be returning to an in-person Christmas Eve Candlelight service on Saturday, December 24th, at 5 PM (one service only). There will also be a service on Christmas morning at 10 AM with carols and stories. Hope, peace, joy, and love to you and your family! A blessed Advent to you and see you soon, Tim