We journey through this Advent season with COVID cases being on the rise across the country. With the country and our state setting new case and death numbers almost every day and at an alarming rate. We journey through Advent in the midst of a global pandemic that has hopefully made us realize how interconnected we all are as a people and a planet. We journey through Advent, the season of waiting and watching, waiting for approval of a vaccine, watching how people continue to break and protest basic health guidelines. We journey through Advent, the season of anticipation and hope, anticipating when we will be able to safely gather again with our worshiping communities, hoping people will take this more seriously so we can get community spread under control.
Hope has been hard throughout this rollercoaster of a year, 2020. Things that we have hoped for have been cancelled or postponed over and over, but the thing about hope, especially Advent hope, is that it stems from a longing for things to be different, for things to be better. Hope acknowledges that the world is full of brokenness and pain and that things are not as they should be. In this season of Advent, we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. We celebrate the hope that was brought to earth as God came among us as a little baby entering the brokenness and pain of the world. We hold tight to the hope brought through God’s love for us.
This year the places of brokenness and pain in our world have been on the forefront for many of us. Seeing the lines of division across our country from politics to masks. Seeing the disparity as the pandemic has affected jobs and incomes of those who were already struggling to make ends meet. Seeing the injustice our siblings of color endure as they continue to be treated like their lives do not matter. Seeing how many people seem to care more about themselves than about protecting others. Seeing the pain of those who grieve yet can’t be with their loved ones.
In all of this and all the other places of pain and brokenness in our world, hope shows up as a healing balm to say, things don’t have to remain this way. We name our weariness, we name our longings, and hope says that there can be healing and wholeness in the midst of brokenness and pain. Advent hope, the hope of Emmanuel, God with us, is a hope that calls us back into community, that calls us back to loving our neighbor, that calls us back toward the way things should be; a hope that calls us to be active in our waiting and watching.
In this Advent season may we find hope in the naming that things are not as they should be, and that God came to be with us, in and through the pain and brokenness of the world. The world is not as it should be, but we can have hope. Hope that things can be different, knowing that in the places of brokenness and pain, God does show up bringing love and grace.