Light one candle for hope,
one bright candle for hope.
He brings hope to every heart.
He comes! He comes!
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25
Today, we light the first of our Advent candles and begin the Advent mantra: ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’
In these words, we begin a process of opening ourselves up to the possibility of hope – but what does that mean for us in the lives we lead and the times we live in?
The Franciscan theologian Richard Rohr writes: “‘Come, Lord Jesus’ is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope…(which is)…the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves. We are able to trust that he will come again, just as Jesus has come into our past, into our private dilemmas and into our suffering world.”
Is this an apparent contradiction to something Augustine of Hippo wrote many years before? “Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be.” So then, does the hope-filled mantra “Come, Lord Jesus” demand something of us too?
Using other familiar words in Advent with these thoughts…. do we have anger enough to wake us up and make us alert to all the injustice and inequality around us? Do we have the courage to act in order that some hope may be realised in the lives of others?
Or, could we be angry with our own lack of faith, our failure to wait open-endedly, our poverty of trust, our tenacious grip on past traditions? It will take courage to change and Advent may be a good and hopeful time to begin.
“Come, Lord Jesus” calls us into this time and place of hope that is both an assurance that things can and will change and a surrender to an open and future possibility that belongs wholly to God.
Jesus came in the past. Jesus comes into the present. Jesus will come into our future. Come, Lord Jesus.
open my heart to the anger and courage that are born of hope
and allow my soul to surrender in faith to your everlasting promise of hope.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.