As I write this, it is a couple of weeks until we light the first Advent candle – the candle of hope. And it seems to me that hope is something we all need in order to live life well. There is so much in the world that works against having hope: war, violence, injustice, poverty, despair, disillusionment… the list could go on. Many feel overwhelmed by the problems of the world, the increasing amount of social dislocation, the rapid pace of change.
Martin Luther King Jnr said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”. I think this is such a great quote and an inspiration to us. It reminds us to raise our eyes above the everyday and to look at the bigger narrative of life that comes through our faith in Jesus Christ. The bigger narrative that is full of hope.
Now, this is not to say that we do not live in the here and now and do what we can to address the many issues that our world faces. We are to be active in our faith and contribute to seeking justice, showing compassion, speaking out on what we believe. And we can do that because we believe in the overarching hope that is ours through Christ.
Christ has come to us and continues to come to us. Showing us how to live, pointing us beyond the everyday to the mystery of the divine.
It is true we have finite disappointments in many areas of our lives, including the church. And yet, we continue to be called to follow Christ and to walk in his ways. To have a sense of hope that comes through the resurrection. ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope’. And at this time of Advent, we also have that sense of hope that comes with the birth of the Christ child – God reaching out to humanity, forming close relationship, the divine in human form.
So, at this time of year especially, let us all be people of hope as we live our lives, connect with others, plan for the future, care for community, and celebrate Christmas. May it be a rich and hope-filled time for you all.
‘Blessed are thou,
O Christmas Christ,
that thy cradle was so low
poorest and simplest of earthly folk,
could yet kneel beside it,
and look level-eyed into the face of God’
[Anon. ‘The Light Shines’ (Christian Aid 1985)]
Right Rev Rose Luxford
Moderator Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand