Hope in the Midst of Advent

An article by on December 1, 2017

 

Advent is an arrival or coming, particularly one that is anticipated, long awaited. The advent season is certainly one of anticipation and the very clear knowledge that something is coming . . . and soon. But doesn’t it tend to be more that of Christmas concerts, office parties, and end-of-semester papers and finals; shopping for the right gift at the right price for the right person – for every person on your list; and what of blended families and coordinating the exchange of children, perhaps contentious?

This is why I love that the first Advent candle we light represents Hope.

 

Hope is the longing or desire for something – that is accompanied by the belief in the possibility that it will actually occur.

What do you believe?

 

As we pondered last week with the fallen leaves, everything decays. All that is sure and whole and solid pulls apart eventually. Still, Jesus is “before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Col. 1:17 And, that is the hope – that deep desire to be held together when so much seems to be pulling apart – held in tension with a sense that Jesus will actually do this. Even now—on earth as it is in Heaven—with all the chaos of the season around me, when in the very depths of my heart, my soul, I have not the strength to keep it together, the Spirit of God dwelling within me . . . does. Hope.

I love the Sufjan Stevens song, Chicago. And not just because we live in the Chicago area. “I fell in love again; all things go, all things go,” so it begins. To Sufjan, falling in love means that everything else is no longer important. All things go, all things go. It recalls Jesus’ exhortation: Sell everything and give to the poor – all things go; I made mistakes – even my thoughts, my mind is only on getting there, being there – a sense that in that place in that space, recreation will occur: hope. This week of Advent, let us practice Hope together.

What do you believe?

Where is your hope?

If you do not know what to believe – listen. In a moment, I will ring the chime and invite you to listen for that space where the sound ends and the silence begins.

When you hold in your hand the things that distress you, the fist clenches and everything seeps through, between the fingers – coming apart.

Suspend all belief – hold it loosely.

Begin now. Chime.

Breathe in, soak in the hope that there is something more in this season. Something more in this day. Someone More in this space, in this moment.

Breathe out the urgency of your lists, your chores, the discord between family members, the concern over the kids.

Breathe in the hope of possibility – that it is not blind, that there exists a reality that penetrates your soul while extending past the farthest expanse imagined.

 

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow

 

Practice hope this week, the holy indifference – hold loosely the things that seem to be falling apart or breaking you apart so the More Than can have space, have room, to hold it all together. Hope. Share your experiences with someone, and perhaps even be an agent of that same hope.

 

As always, you can find the transcript of this podcast and resources on my website eirenicole.com. And special thanks to my dear husband, Howie Snyder, for adding his voice to the words of Chicago.

 

And today, may you walk at the pace of grace.

Chicago, by, Sufjan Stevens; performed by, Howie Snyder

Photography: “Wait,” by Ethan Oliver

 

I fell in love again
All things go, all things go
Drove to Chicago
All things know, all things know

We sold our clothes to the state
I don’t mind, I don’t mind
I made a lot of mistakes
In my mind, in my mind

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow

We had our mindset
All things know, all things know
You had to find it
All things go, all things go

I drove to New York
In a van, with my friend
We slept in parking lots
I don’t mind, I don’t mind

I was in love with the place
In my mind, in my mind
I made a lot of mistakes
In my mind, in my mind

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow

We had our mindset
All things know, all things know
You had to find it
All things…

 

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About Nicole

Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (MI).

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