Advent Blog 2022 – Hope

I have been following a podcast and blog called the Mystic Cave by Brian Pearson, a retired Anglican priest.  Last week I was interviewed by Brian on my spiritual journey and the place that religion plays in my life.  You can hear this fifty-minute interview at: https://www.brianepearson.ca/post/getting-wise

Four weeks ago, Brian interviewed Sarah Kerr on the transformative power of ritual. You can hear her at:  https://www.brianepearson.ca/post/sacred-rites

Two weeks ago, I was having lunch with a friend when he asked me, “What is the meaning of Advent?   It does not seem to be very meaningful or exciting”.  I was able to share my own experience of Advent as a ritual that keeps me connected to the history or grounding of the Christmas story, challenges me to explore how the story of the gift of life is still being lived out in our time (or at least in my life).

One ritual I follow is the observance of Advent, which leads me into deeper contemplation of the meaning of Christmas.  This four-week preparation for the celebration of Christmas, focuses on the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, which I use for journaling and reflection.

That conversation with my friend and my co-leadership of a course on Pilgrimage in the past 6 weeks helped shape my practice this year: to use music as a way into the season.   The first week of Advent begins on Sunday, November 27 with the theme of Hope.  I am using the song:  I Remember, I Believe by Sweet Honey in the Rock.  I plan to listen to it and read it every morning to sink deeper into the experience of hopefulness. I invite you to do something similar by choosing a reading, poem, song or scripture to explore the source of hope for you. How do you pick one piece?  I say, sit quietly and let it come to you.

I Remember, I believe – Sweet Honey in the Rock

I don’t know how my mother walked her trouble down
I don’t know how my father stood his ground
I don’t know how my people survive slavery
I do remember, that’s why I believe

I don’t know why the rivers overflow their banks
I don’t know why the snow falls and covers the ground
I don’t know why the hurricane sweeps through the land
every now and then
Standing in a rainstorm, I believe

I don’t know how the angels woke me up this morning soon
I don’t know how the blood still runs thru my veins
I don’t know how I rate to run another day
am here still runnin’, I believe

My God calls to me in the morning dew
The power of the universe knows my name
Gave me a song to sing and sent me on my way
I raise my voice for justice, I believe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRkRyK5p47w   This version is powerful because it has some commentary about the passion of the voice as well as the words.
https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=3qSAcd-P2Cs  This version is just the vocals, no visual of the group.

Some thoughts from my previous blogs
Hope, for me, always emerged as the new year arrived. The new year was not so much about looking back, as looking ahead and dreaming about tomorrow.  In my 2021 blog, I was hoping for a time that would be more full of life, and maybe some travel again. This Advent, my wife and I are traveling to Mexico for two weeks. Hope fulfilled!!

Advent blog, 2020 – Richard Rohr’s book, The Universal Christ, helped me put words to the celebration of the coming of Jesus.  In Rohr’s view, Jesus’s birth was the second incarnation.  The first incarnation was when God entered the physical world in the creation of the universe.  My work of Advent is to open my heart to the Universal Christ who calls me to celebrate this connection with the divine mystery. Sometimes it feels like the movie, Groundhog Day, where the main character begins the same day over and over again, learning something each time, until finally he gets the message of how he is to live.  That allows him to break free and live his new life.  This is the moment of transformation which, I believe, is the second coming of Jesus we are waiting for.  Here I am back at the beginning of Advent again, but not the same person I was last year. What will make your journey through Advent a pilgrimage and not just a busy anxious time?

Commanding Hope by Thomas Homer-Dixon has been a guidebook on hope for me.  He talks about hope needing to be honest, astute and powerful. It is the movement from “hope that” to “hope to”.  The former phrase is passive, and the latter phrase needs a verb, an action. The Evolutionary Spiritual perspective is not that someone or something is going to come and save us.  That is a passive approach to life. Waiting on Jesus, or a vaccine, or some new technology to get us out of our predicament so we can get back to being the same people who caused the predicament in the first place is not an active approach.  There is a long review of this book at https://cascadeinstitute.org/commanding-hope-review/ 

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