Advent Again—Time for Practicing Hope

First Sunday of Advent candle lit - image by Susanne Nilsson (cropped) under CC BY-SA 2.0The thing about the Christian year is that it keeps coming around. Over and over again, we get to try our hearts and minds and hands at Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time. We get to dust off the liturgies and speak or sing them again. We get to try old prayers in new ways—or try new prayers on old themes. We get to pick up our symbols and phrases and turn them slowly and look at them and listen to them repeatedly and allow their many layers and nuances to speak to us.

This is called spiritual practice. So, yes, it’s Advent again. But that is how it should be. We have a season ahead of us in which to rehearse and reenact the sacred story of God Is on the Way! God Will Soon Be with Us in the Most Extraordinary Way! Hope is coming; love is coming. A shining realm of peace and wholeness is, truly, coming.

We have a season in which to give our faith a workout, in which to exercise our hope muscles. Some years make that exercise more difficult than others. But it’s Advent now, and, as people of faith, we are called upon to exercise our hope.

If hope isn’t created for times such as these—when countries are divided, when civil war annihilates whole communities and sends refugees fleeing, when hungry children are ignored because their interests are of no interest to powerful entities, when human beings are trafficked by the thousands to be used for sex or cheap labor, when industry and wealth win over the health of the planet and all its creatures and the global community—if hope isn’t created for times such as these, then why have hope at all?

So let’s try Advent once again. Let’s practice a hopeful way of being in the world.

  • Sing the songs.
  • Ring the bells.
  • Put up the decorations.
  • Tell the stories.
  • Give lots and lots to all sorts of worthy charities.
  • Open your home to those who need welcome; pretend that each one of them is the baby Jesus, born on the road and needing help.
  • Use your creative gifts: to write, bake, paint, act, make quilts or sound financial plans.
  • Go to church.
  • Go to the neighborhood hang-out or the family party.
  • Pay attention to the kids and welcome their very selves.
  • Don’t leave pets out in the snow.
  • Don’t give up prayer because life feels raw and scary.
  • Don’t hurry through Advent because you’re not terribly good at living it; just let it live in the real life you have.
  • Don’t forget that God loves you.
  • And please don’t forget that God loves everybody else too.

He came for us all. Together, we wait for the holy child.

Image by Susanne Nilsson (cropped) under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Vinita Hampton Wright
Vinita Hampton Wright edited books for 32 years, retiring in 2021. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places and spirituality books Days of Deepening Friendship, The Art of Spiritual Writing, Small Simple Ways: An Ignatian Daybook for Healthy Spiritual Living, and, most recently, Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church. Vinita is a spiritual director and continues to facilitate retreats and write fiction and nonfiction. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat in Springdale, Arkansas.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Vinita, for this wonderful reflection. There is so much to ponder over and practical suggestions. I have printed it out so I can think about it more and work on the suggestions.
    Happy Advent.

  2. Thanks Vinita….I always seem to dread the Christmas season…..this helps me to drop any expectations, be myself and focus on others. Sometimes it is “just showing up” and keeping our eyes on the things above.

    Peace

  3. Just as good stories must be shared, over and over again, re-posting of an excellent article, such as this, results in NEW readers, and spreading the word further. Thank you, Vinita. I will print this out and include it in the many notes I hope to now write today. (And, it meshes perfectly with every other “online daily Advent reading” I have signed on for this month! Funny how that works!)

  4. Beautiful reminder of the message of Advent – and the hope for ourselves and others this season brings.
    Thank you for your suggestions on how to live Advent in a fulfilling, prayerful, conscious way.

  5. Very Beautifully written…. so very good. Thank you Vinita, always a pleasure to read your reflections. God has blest you with a very great gift to communicate. Thank you so much. A.M.D.G.

  6. I wish I had read this at the beginning of Advent, but I guess you get what you need when you need it. I especially liked the reminder of the repetition of the seasons, which leads to ever increasing understanding and depth of feeling. Thanks for your words, Vinita.

  7. Thank you, Vinita, for encouraging hope and assurance of God’s love for those of us who feel we have to go through a loveless life.

  8. I wonder if concentrating on the story well I think will be the only way for me this season.Hope is one of the three big ones.We all massively need this.Hope in others can often leave us at best dissapointed at worse heart broken by others indifference etc. Mary carried mankinds hope within her.She brought forth Love into the world. She travelled in Hope in obedience to God’s plan for her. Love suffered pain is hard to carry and endure.I am sure they had some difficulties on the way! They placed themselves in God’s hands. There is something here in this journey for all of us on our way. It doesn’t necessarily come wrapped as tinsel. We can rejoice because the Prince of Peace has entered our broken world. I hope the Christ Child and his Mother will bring hope to those myself included battered by the journey.

    • Debbie, may God’s love embrace you like a family quilt. It’s so difficult to lose a loved one near the holidays. Be gentle with yourself, and please remember that God’s loving gaze remains fixed upon you every moment of every day.

  9. Dear Vinita thanks again for your writing. My sister has just had difficult news re cancer. So hope this season is a good focus. Kind regards Heathet from Australia.

  10. I love this article so much and had to share with all on Facebook! Hope is what being a Catholic Christian is all about. WE must be that light that shines forth to others as we prepare the way for our King. Thank you for blessing us with this reflection today, Vinita!

    • Thanks, Micki, for sharing it on FB! You never know what impact the right words can have at the right time and for a certain person. Peace to you during this Advent.

  11. Advent is a time of renewed hope and expectancy! Beautiful reflection, reminds us that preparing for Jesus is a process and that we use this time to reflect, prepare, pray and get ready! Makes Christmas Day all the more meaningful! We need this in this time of despair and pain!

  12. Very good reflection for these dark and scary times when hate, animosity, and greed seem to be winning. Please Lord, help us all

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